Wednesday, June 27

Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot


D-Day looms in Nazi occupied France, and everyone knows something is going to happen, but are unsure of how it will turn out.  Brigitte runs a brothel, but secretly brings much needed food to the French resistance.  Meanwhile, an American pilot, Tom Jaeger, is shot down, and quickly joins the resistance until he can reconnect with US forces.  Tom poses as a German officer and works with Brigitte to gain information vital to the resistance.  But each day that passes is another day to be caught.  Will they gather enough to help the resistance, or will they be caught?

This is Tracy Groot’s fourth novel.  Her first three were Biblical Fiction, including the Christy Award winning Madman.  I read Madman a few years ago and enjoyed it.  Last year I had the opportunity to meet Tracy, who is a West Michigan native, and she told me about Flame of Resistance, which at the time was not yet out.  While still historical fiction, it is her first novel not in Biblical times.  However, readers might notice that the story is a loose retelling of Rahab’s story.

Wednesday, June 20

Why Church Matters by Joshua Harris


“Church isn’t where we go.  It’s who we are,” reads the back cover of Joshua Harris’s book Why Church Matters.  This was previously released as Stop Dating the Church, so if you already own that book there’s not need to rush out and buy this one, unless you really want the added discussion questions.

Lately it seems I’ve been reading a lot of books which have something to on the church.  From You’ve Lost Me to A Faith of Our Own, it seems more people are wondering what to do when the see more and more young Christian leaving the church.  One of the questions that will inevitable come up: Is Church is even all that important?  Harris answers with a firm, “Yes.”

Tuesday, June 19

A Faith of Our Own by Jonathan Merritt


Everyone seems to have an opinion on everything today.  Even it’s something that you can’t really have an opinion on, people still find a way.  As opinions grow, more and more people begin to voice their opinion hoping to gain influence with it.  Religion has always played a role in America, and now Christian leaders seek to gain more influence.  However, many seem to have moved beyond voicing their thoughts, they are seeking a culture war.  But is a culture war really what we are called to?  Can we really love our neighbors, and even our enemies, in a culture war?  Is anything even being accomplished in a culture war?  Has the church stepped too far into politics?  These are some of the things which Jonathan explores in A Faith of Our Own.

Throughout, Jonathan makes a case that Christians have become overly involved in politics.  Pastors have come to endorse specific candidates, parties, legislation, and policies.  These endorsements can silently indicate that if you disagree you must not be a fully committed Christian.  As Jonathan shows, this runs on both sides of the aisle. 

Tuesday, June 12

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff


All too often history books are plain boring.  They include too many events that are only present because the author is a history buff who can’t bear to let tiny details slip through the cracks.  They suffer from writing devoid of any personality, as if your eighth grade history teacher wrote it.  Even worse is when they offer up nothing new, but seem to paraphrase every other book on the same subject. 

Thankfully, not all history books are created equal.  Every once in a while comes a book which makes you forget that the event happened decades, or centuries, ago.  You are drawn into the story, rooting for the people involved, wondering how it’s going to end, and actually learning something interesting.  This is how I felt throughout Lost in Shangri-La.  Written by Mitchell Zuckoff, it was originally published in hardcover in 2011 and is now being released in paperback.

Monday, June 4

A Shot of Faith to the Head by Mitch Stokes


In the era of the internet, opinions are a mere click away.  So are rants, meaningless gibberish, anger, and people who are always ‘right.’  Bring in television, film, and book publishing, there are a multitude of ways not only to present an opinion, but also to hear it.  In an age where everyone tries to have there opinion heard, it can be difficult to weed out the truth.  To make it worse, those who voice their thoughts not only believe they’re right, but often believe that they can attack people who hold differing views.  While dialogue is important, it can be hard to have a true dialogue with people of differing views in today’s world. 

For Christians, this is especially found in talking with Atheists.  Often Christian beliefs are immediately dismissed as irrational.  And if someone thinks a view is irrational, it’s hard to have a proper dialogue, and may even lead to doubting one’s faith.  But is Christianity irrational?  Is Atheism the ration side, or is irrational?  In A Shot of Faith to the Head: Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists, Stokes writes to encourage Christians in their faith.