Christopher Hopper releases The White Lion Chronicles on ebook!

Posted: February 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, My Thoughts, Writing | No Comments »

Rise of the Dibor - The White Lion Chronicles by Christopher HopperAuthor (and friend) Christopher Hopper has released his White Lion Chronicles on ebook! I loved this coming of age story which follows a group of youths chosen to protect their kingdom from impending doom from an evil they never knew existed.  Though written for the young adult audience, the writing and story were on par with any adult Christian fiction you would pick up. I found several spiritual truths along the way, and the presentation was impeccable.

All three books are available, so there’s no waiting a year for the next installment. I for one will be re-reading them on my Kindle.  A few links:

Christopher’s blog, Buy the Kindle version, Buy at Smashwords


Review: The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook

Posted: February 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | No Comments »

Click to buy

I’m an “outside-the-box”kind of guy who grew up thinking, “Why be normal, everyone else is?” So when I saw the words “Christian” and “Zombie” in the same title, I had to get it. In “The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook” author Jeff Kinley combines a zombie survival novella with no-holds-barred Bible teaching.

Each chapter is two-part, the first a story episode followed by commentary on how we all carry a type of zombie virus inside of us.

In the story, Ben Forman lives in a world where at any moment a zombie can bite a chunk out of your arm, infecting you with the Z28 virus which turns you into a zombie in minutes. It follows him through various zombie encounters and life-altering interventions mixing love with loss.

The B-side of the chapters is where Kinley gets down and dirty, dealing with that part of us that is a repulsive rotting  corpse in the eyes of God. In a time where many authors paint humanity as inherently good, Kinley calls it like it is; our best is no better than filthy, stinking, zombie flesh. But he doesn’t leave us there, he brings us through how we can be made acceptable to God, and even after that process, our inner zombie will still turn up and take control from time to time.

“The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook” is a great read and very insightful. I give the fictional part 3 of 5 stars , and the non-fiction 3.5. You can read an excerpt here: Zombie Killer’s Handbook

Thanks to Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze for allowing me to blog-review this book, and providing a copy free of charge.  A positive review is not required.


Book Review: For Such A Time As This: Calling Your Area To Be Triumphant In Christ!

Posted: January 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | 2 Comments »

Click To Buy

“For Such a Time as This” by Pastor Kirk Gilchrist is a book about renewal and revival, and this message is clear from the very beginning: the cover. At the top, before the title, in all-caps, are the words, “FORWARD BY TED HAGGARD.” Wow, what a gutsy choice as at this point some will unfortunately put this book down. For me it shows that Pastor Kirk Gilchrist believes in this message and is not going to avoid tough topics or fail to speak what is on his heart for fear of offending the reader. Bravo!

In “For Such a Time as This,” Gilchrist takes the reader through the history of his own rural church, which has grown from 30-50 in attendance to over 400. He relays to pastors that no matter the size or location of their church, God’s plan is for their Church to prosper and grow.

Gilchrist tackles some common issues that churches face and calls them out for what they are, excuses to be stagnant and defeated. His own church is in a county of northern New York (the Thousand Island region) known for economic depression, his own town having only 92 homes. God taught him to look past these indicators and see the greater vision of a prosperous church: not only financially viable, but prospering in the community by taking part in improving their surroundings, and impacting individual lives in their county.

The foundation is love, and the house is built by action. Some say that these are the worst of times for the church, but Gilchrist paints a portrait of a harvest ripe for the picking; that revival is not at some unforeseen point in the future, but that revival is now.

The writing style is direct, as though you were reading a transcript of Gilchirst’s preaching. The first few chapters where he delves into the history of his church felt like a bit too much, but it pays off later in the book when he explains the steps and processes God led the church through and relates them to those experiences.

I recommend “For Such a Time as This” as a tool for encouragement and a starting point to taking the Gospel of God’s love for all outside the four walls of the church.

Disclosures: I am a member of Kirk Gilchrist’s New Life Christian Church, and was given a copy of “For Such a Time as This” for review, free of charge. These opinions were given with all effort to be objective without regard to him being my pastor.  A positive review was not required.


Review: Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos

Posted: December 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

(Read to the end to learn how to win a copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos today!)

Buy Here

We’ve all watched monster movies and later that night held the covers close while sleeping with one eye open, hoping the beasts of the night will find other prey to appease their appetites.  In “Night of the Living Dead Christian,” Matt Mikalatos stumbles upon a mad scientist and some monsters during his neighborhood watch.  The ensuing comical mayhem results in Matt helping his neighbor Luther, a werewolf, find a cure for his lycanthropy before he is killed by Borut the monster hunter.

Mikalatos spins an incredible allegory as the unlikely gaggle of heroes battle various monsters and make allies en route to discovering there’s a monster in all of us.

Now, there are those who will see the words werewolf, zombie, and vampire and dismiss this title completely.  To those I say “a spoonful of brains helps the medicine go down.”  Sometimes the only way to confront the difficult questions in our lives is to see them from a different perspective, and that is what Matt Mikalatos offers in “Night of the Living Dead Christian.”  It’s a light hearted delivery system to some heavy-handed self reflection.

The end of the book has a couple of great features including a glossary of monsters and a Q&A with Mikalatos.

I highly recommend “Night of the Living Dead Christian.” I put his writing in the Jon Acuff section of “makes me laugh until I hurt, and it hurts most because he’s talking about me.” This is my first encounter with Matt Mikalatos’s writing, and it’s impressed me enough to warrant me buying his previous title, “Imaginary Jesus,” in which he is also a main character on a mission to find the real Jesus.

Here is Matt and his take on “Night of the Living Dead Christian.”

watch on tyndale.com

You can find Matt’s blog here: http://mattmikalatos.com

And on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/matt.mikalatos

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers who provided this copy to me free of charge for review.  A positive review was not required.

———————————————————————

Awesome! You’ve made it to the end of my review, and I hope it was helpful for you.  So, how do you win a copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian? There are two ways to enter:

a) Leave a comment about your favorite monster movie and what frightens you the most about it.

b) Share this post on Facebook.  (edit: My tracker is showing the number of shares, but not who shared, so please leave a note if you shared it. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

Each of these will get you one entry and you can only enter today (12/15/2011). Tomorrow I will put all of the entries into a hat (Yankees!) and have one of my kids draw a name.  Check back to see if you have won. I will post the winner on the blog and on my facebook page (facebook.com/baddogmooney).


Review: Vigilante by Robin Parrish

Posted: November 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | 1 Comment »
Vigilante by Robin Parrish

Click to buy

In Vigilante, Robin Parrish introduces an America overrun by organized crime and in need of a hero.  Through the passage of a new crime bill, President Hastings creates the Organized Crime Intelligence (OCI), but alone it’s not enough to stop up and coming crime lord Yuri Vasko.

Enter Nolan Gray, a former Special Forces war hero.  Along with his former commander Branford, and technology guru Arjay, Nolan sets out to show the world a better way.  Dubbed “The Hand,” he takes it upon himself to rid New York City of organized crime and inspire others to stand up for themselves.

In a case of mistaken identity, Vasko makes it his life’s mission to ruin “The Hand.” This rivalry causes Nolan to wrestle with the morality of taking the law into his own hands, and how far he is willing to go to bring Vasko to justice.

Vigilante moves at a fast pace. The back story is sporadic, but I enjoyed the mystery of it, as it left room for more discoveries if there is a sequel.  Parrish’s style is refreshing, and it’s one of the better written Christian action novels I have read recently.  He takes on a journey though the darker side of justice without being overly exposed.  The fight scenes are tight and the ending in not the cliché “ride into the sunset” super hero ending.

I recommend Vigilante and will pick up a copy of the sequel if one is released.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers who provided this copy to me free of charge for review.  A positive review was not required.


Review: Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

Posted: October 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | 2 Comments »

Click to buy

If you were to stop someone on the street and ask them what the first thing that came to their mind was when you say “Christian,” the top three answers would be Jesus, cross, and church.  And why not? Two thousand years ago Jesus came to earth, died on a cross, and established the church to carry His good news to the world.

I would also contend that as soon as Jesus feet disappeared through the clouds as He ascended to heaven the arguments about how the church should be structured began.  And two thousand years later, the quest for the “authentic” way to do church continues.

Unfortunately, it’s popular today to say that church sucks. A growing number of people in the church will not only agree with this, but gladly tell you why. Really. So what are we to do about it?

Some say we should throw the ship that is the modern church out and build a new one based on what God originally intended before it was contaminated by “pagan rituals.” Others believe that we are on the right ship, just our heading needs to be adjusted to get us headed to port.

In “Why We Love The Church” Pastor Kevin DeYoung and coauthor Ted Kluck take a stand against what they believe is an “anti-church” movement and make the case for why the institution of the church is not only necessary to the Christian faith, but is what God designed from the beginning.

The first half of “Why We Love the Church” is a critique of the home/missional church movement and why they believe so many are leaving the traditional church for these other church models. Their emphasis is that the main objective of the church is not self-help, social justice, and casual group meetings, but to preach the Gospel and make disciples.

In the latter half, DeYoung and Kluck build a scriptural basis for institutional church. The home church movement tries to get away from the church offices and structure for a more pliable and casual form.  Yes the disciples and early church met in homes, but Jesus clearly set church structure in order when “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11-12)”

”Why We Love The Church” is an excellent rebuttal to the “leave the church” movement, but I think too much of the book was aimed toward the negative. Instead of focusing on why they love the church, DeYoung and Kluck use nearly half the book explaining why they think George Barna (author of “Revolution” and “Pagan Christianity”), Frank Viola (coauthor of “Pagan Christianity”),  and the home church movement have it wrong.  It’s the equivalent of trying to sell me a new Ford by telling me why I shouldn’t buy a Chevy.

The next portion is devoted to “why the church?” Here DeYoung and Kluck show the biblical basis for the institutional church. Once again this information is vital to understanding why we have church in a building with deacons, elders, and pastors, but it still avoids why they love it.

While they admit that the church with four walls has plenty of room for improvement, they show how it’s the body of which Christ is the head. It’s not just a place we show up to once a week and socialize over a cup of coffee and a doughnut, it’s the place “…you plant your flag and say, ‘This is where I’m a Christian.’(p146)”

Finally, in the last two chapters, we finally see why they love the church.  If you want to skip all the history and argument for the church as it is today, jump straight to these.

The first is a letter from Kluck to his son Tristan. It’s a passionate plea for his son to see past some of the nonsense that is bound to happen in churches full of imperfect people, and to remember why God established a church. It’s the place we go to worship together, to learn together, to do life together.  It’s a place where we find family, and not always the lovey perfect family, but the messy get your hands dirty with each others family. It’s a place and a people we are committed to.

“Why We Love The Church” is an excellent read, and something I recommend to gain a better understanding of why we do church the way we do, but maybe a more fitting title would be “Why We’re Not Home Churchers,” similar to DeYoung and Kluck’s first book, “Why We’re Not Emergent.”

As for me, I love the church too.

Here is the link to their website Why We Love The Church where you can read a sample chapter and download the study guide.

 


What’s your favorite read?

Posted: July 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, My Thoughts, Random, Writing | 3 Comments »
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Amazon Link

I enjoy reading so I read quite a bit, often 3-4 books at a time.  I recently finished a couple and found myself at a loss of what to read next, so I decided to get out old faithful.  We all have one; the book that you can read a million times.  It’s like comfort food for the soul.

My “old faithful” is Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”  It’s the only book other than the Bible I’ve read at least four times.  It’s a story about two boys, Will and Jim, and a mysterious carnival that blows into town.  I just can’t get enough of it.

Bradbury’s writing is so playful, and descriptive, I just can’t get enough.  Sometimes I will read a sentence or paragraph ten times in a row because it’s so brilliantly flawless: perfect.

The pic for this post is the front cover from the copy I have, a 1970 Bantam paperback that is near the end of it’s life.  (Take that ebooks, lol You’ll be irrelevant in 41 years and I’ll still have my paperback!)

So, what’s your “old faithful?”  What book keeps you coming back time and again? What is it that you love so much about it?

 

 

 

 


Review: Game Plan for Life: Your Personal Playbook for Success by Joe Gibbs

Posted: July 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews | No Comments »

Game Plan for Life: Your Personal Playbook for Success by Joe GibbsA key to winning in any sport is having a great coach, so when I saw this title written by three-time Super Bowl coach and NASCAR championship owner Joe Gibbs, I had to have it.  In Game Plane for Life, Joe Gibbs builds a foundation for living a successful life in areas like spirituality, finances, relationships, and career.

Each chapter begins with Joe Gibb’s life lessons in that area, and then finished by a specialist he trusts to teach the nuts and bolts of the topic.  At first I was a little turned off by it, like having a friend over for dinner only to find out he invited another guest, but in the end the guest writers are brilliant. As with any team, the way to get the most out of your players is to have coaches that focus on one position (quarterback coach, running back coach, linebacker coach, etc.), and so it is in Game Plan for Life.

I’m in my mid-thirties, married with kids, and I wish I had a book like this years ago.  It is very insightful and I will have my boys read it when they are of age.

Buy here.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers who provided this copy to me free of charge for review.  A positive review was not required.


Review: Love Wins by Rob Bell

Posted: June 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, My Thoughts, Spirituality | 4 Comments »

If you know me at all, you know I’m opinionated.  If you read my blog at all, you know I share them quite liberally.  Sometimes I just rattle them off like a machine gun, but not so this time.  Rob Bell’s controversial new book, “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” has shaken my core.  It requires more than just a rant.

Many early reviews of Rob Bell’s book rip into him with accusations of universalism and heresy, and these came with only the few chapters he pre-released.  The topics covered are too important to jump the gun or just write him off, so I ordered the book.  I wanted some background on Rob Bell before reading “Love Wins,” so before it arrived I read scores of reviews, read or watched every interview I could find, and watched hours of Nooma videos he has up on YouTube.

Obsessed?  Maybe.

In “Love Wins” Rob Bell asks hundreds of questions, many quite heavy.  It’s wrecked me; not just his opinions about the answers, but the questions in general.  Is there a heaven and hell?  If there is, who goes where? What are the criteria for each destination?

I grew up in the church, so most were questions I thought had been answered, so I didn’t need to worry about them.  I was wrong; I do need to worry about them.  In the answers to these questions hangs the eternal destiny of billions, hangs the life of my wife and children, hangs my life and yours.

I’ve read “Love Wins” twice through, and countless pages re-read for clarity and study.  I’ve looked at the verses he uses, followed his word studies, and studied further on my own.  If I gain nothing else from “Love Wins,” it’s challenged me to the point of studying the Bible at a level I have not been at in years.  Though Rob Bell skirts around giving a direct “yes” or “no” for many of his answers, I have come to some conclusions.

First, Rob Bell has an enormous heart for people.  His words are ripe with compassion, for them.  You can tell he has been with people who have experienced pain, and he’s concerned about how God’s love has been represented as small, narrow, and exclusive.

I agree.  What a dark picture the gospel in America is portrayed as today.  The “good news” has been reduced to the ominous “turn or burn.”  Even though it holds truth, it barely sounds inviting, let alone good.

Rob Bell’s “gospel” is that Jesus died for all of humanity’s sin, and that in the end (even after our death), because of this free gift, all mankind will be reconciled (accepted, conformed, harmonized, pacified, re-established) back to Him.  He teaches that there is a literal hell, but the only hell man will see is the pain and torment we have every day here and now, and that we can choose to live in that torment in the next life.

This is where I believe Rob Bell starts to veer away from truth.   For me, it goes all the way back to the beginning: to the garden.  There was a woman, a tree, and a serpent, and the serpent said to the woman, “Did God really say you would die? Surely you will not.”  That is eerily close to, “A loving god wouldn’t really keep you out heaven.  A merciful God wouldn’t punish you for eternity for one little decision (paraphrase).”

People, with Eve’s first bite, the God who is love, who is mercy, judged not only her, but every person ever born after her to a death sentence.

Mix into this Rob Bell’s claims of what a “loving god” would and would not do and that if God did behave in certain ways, he would not be a worthy god, but a cruel and heartless one.  This too is hard for me to digest.

By whose definition of “love” are we holding God to?  Ours?  I hope not.  We need only to watch the news and we see the distorted image man has made of love.  For teens, it’s something they “fall” into, or see demonstrated on media ripe with promiscuity.  Half the marriages in America end in divorce because by their definition they are no longer “in love.”  Or is it the love Lyn Benedetto had for her kids when she killed them with a box cutter in March so they wouldn’t have to experience the “Tribulation?”(story here)

We don’t get to define love.  We don’t get to define God.  He sets the rules, not us.  And if you don’t obey the rules, you are penalized.  Even kids get it.  Ask your kids, they see it every day in the games they play.  Step out of bounds and the other team gets the ball.  Commit enough fouls and you sit on the bench for the rest of the game.  You get caught cheating and you lose.  Without the enforcement of the rules, the game is ruined for everyone, and the same it is with life.  The God who created all made the rules, and to live outside them brings consequence.

There are many instances in the Bible where obeying God brings life, and disobeying brings death, to even the Jews, his chosen people.

Remember in Genesis 6 and 7, where God so loved mankind He destroyed all but eight by drowning them?  Yes, God loved them, but he regretted ever making man, and judged them for “doing what was right in their own eyes.”  Or when God brought the plagues on Egypt, including sending an angel to kill the first born of every family whose door was not covered with the blood of the lamb, was He not love then (Exodus 5-11)?  When His chosen people, the Jews, complained in the wilderness after a great victory God had given them, and he sent “fiery serpents” into their camp, and they were dying by the thousands, the only way for them to be saved was to look at the brass serpent he commanded Moses to make, was He not merciful (Numbers 21)?  Notice in each there was a specific plan of salvation.

And what of Sodom and Gomorrah?  Abraham prayed that if even ten were righteous in the cities, would God not judge them?  Was Abraham more loving and merciful than God?  Certainly not!

All that said, I do wish that Rob Bell is right, that in the end all are saved, but it can’t be so.  That gospel can’t be what the disciples died for.  They couldn’t have stood before rulers and said, “Jesus is the only way, but you can still have followed Him through your local religion and not really known it was Him you were following.”  They would have been laughed out of courts, not stoned and crucified.  That is a mush gospel not worthy of the persecution Jesus said would follow it.

If taken to just its logical conclusion, Rob Bell’s gospel teaches that we do not have to share the gospel or make disciples,  which is in direct contradiction to Jesus’ commission to his disciples.  If we look at Cornelius in Acts 10, we see a gentile man who feared God, fasted, prayed, and gave to the poor yet still needed to hear the Gospel from Peter to be forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit.

The Gospel must be preached, and that hurts bad because I haven’t preached it.   I have neglected the command of Jesus to, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15).”  As my friend and brother Christopher Hopper says, “There are souls waiting on the other side of your obedience.”

Romans 10 says this, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

Do I understand it all? Of course not. But if you read “Love Wins,” study what Rob Bell speaks about and let the Holy Spirit, who is our teacher, show you the truth.

Have you read “Love Wins?”  What did you think?

-   C.R. Mooney

 

 


Giving through my blogs

Posted: June 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: aka My Jesus, Book Reviews, It Hurts So Good, My Thoughts, Political, Random, Spirituality, Videos, Writing | No Comments »

You have probably noticed there are some advertisements on my blog, and they are there for good reason: to give.  Originally, I opened an Amazon Associate account to help pay for my hosting and domains, but I don’t want to profit from what I write here.

So I am giving it away.  So, if you like to buy from Amazon, please stop here first and click through one of my book links, then search for what you want at Amazon and 4%-6% of you purchase will go toward the charity listed for that month!

Starting March 2011, all proceeds from my blogs (www.CRMooney.com and www.christianwriterscorner.wordpress.com) will be given to a different ministry or cause.  I will be posting a capture of my earnings and receipt of the giving for accountability.  There is a two month pay cycle, so the receipt won’t show until I have been paid, and the money given.

Also, please feel free to click through to the different organizations and see if you would like to donate on your own!

To see what’s been given so far, click the “giving” tab at the upper right of the blog, or click here to go to the Giving page.