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My time spent with speculative fiction is somewhat limited; however, The Unwanted is probably one of the most imaginative works of the genre I've ever read. This book has more twists and turns in it than four Bavarian pretzels--and it's only the first book in the trilogy.
Tibon, a fiendishly brilliant scientist, is on a quest to avenge the politically motivated and officially covered-up murder of his family over 25 years ago. He selects the genetic engineering and ultimate control of a race of super humans to achieve that revenge. But one day something goes terribly wrong with his plan. Two nurses flee with five of his infant subjects, all of whom had been marked for termination. The nurses lose themselves and the babies in the backwoods of Oklahoma, where, with the help of a few friends, they raise the children. Thus is the beginning of the Family.
The core of the Family comprises these five genetically altered children, each with their own unique giftings. The nurses, Janet and Michelle, had no knowledge of the genetic experimentation. Until, that is, strange things begin to occur as the babies grow and their "abnormalities" begin to manifest in shocking ways. Janet chronicles the infants' unnerving development in her journal as the women strain to cope with what is unfolding before them. Now, enter the FBI and Tibon's forces, both of whom are searching for the missing children for counterpoised purposes, and you have the makings of a volatile situation bound to explode at the crux moment. And rest assured; explode it does--in more ways than one.
Mr. Carter blends depravity and greed, love and redemption, treachery and guile, and innocence and loyalty into a fast-paced tale that will keep you turning page after page. Ultimately, you'll discover how a single man's fanatical arrogance fares against Divine purpose, and in ways you'd least expect. Cool!
I must confess that people who write this kind of stuff, and write it well, worry me. I mean, c'mon; how does a mind living in the everyday world come up with a scenario that seems so far off the wall, but then so successfully roots it in the real world that it doesn't even nudge incredulity? Does Mr. Carter know something we don't? I wonder...nah!
Several months ago I published a review of Carsten Peter Thiede’s bestselling book, Eyewitness to Jesus. Today we look at another of his books, The Dead Sea Scrolls. The book is subtitled And the Jewish Origins of Christianity. Clearly Mr. Thiede is not one to shrink from controversy.
Carsten Thiede is first and foremost a papyrologist. In this book he details how he utilized his pioneering methods of restoring ancient scrolls to study and interpret the Essene library found at Qumran in 1947. Thiede begins with the basics. The scrolls were written by an ancient sect of Judaism known as the Essenes. The scrolls were written in Hebrew and Aramaic…the language of Jesus. And these scrolls were known to other ancient writers such as Origen and other early Christian theologians until at least the Third Century. In so doing he verifies what many have long believed: initially the first Christians were essentially a Jewish movement, not a fundamentally different religion.
That such a conclusion should be deemed controversial indicates that modern Christians appear to have lost touch with their roots. Anyone examining the origins of Christianity is quickly led to its relationship to Judaism. Jesus and all of the original disciples were, after all, Jewish. The way they thought and worshipped, their sense of the sacred, of feast and festivals, of fasting, praying, their rites and rituals, were all part and parcel of their Jewish roots. And so, when the two religions began their bitter separation, is it surprising that the dowry which Christianity took away from the relationship would be Judaic in nature?
Interestingly, Thiede was able to identify scroll fragments from Mark’s Gospel and Paul’s first letter to Timothy among the Dead Sea Scrolls. What does this mean, and what does it say about the settlement at Secacah…present day Qumran? First, and foremost, this amazing discovery indicates that these documents must have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It also suggests that the Essene community apparently viewed the early Christians as fellow Jews, perhaps members of a new sect, and were eager to examine their provocative ideas about the true Messiah.
I originally read this book while seeking background information for my Seeds of Christianity™ Series. Though startling in its conclusions, The Dead Sea Scrolls is very readable, well illustrated and as interesting as any novel. Mr. Thiede explains the technical aspects of papyrology in understandable terms, making the book assessable to the non-scientist. I highly recommend it. You will be amazed at how much information he can pull from a few centimeters of ancient parchment.
Just when you think the Last-Days genre has been pretty much exhausted, John Robinson slips one in under the radar that knocks your socks off. Clearing the high bar he set in his previous novels, he infuses brutal force into his prose and remains steadfastly unapologetic in his message--both of which are essential to pull off a story like Heading Home.
Mr. Robinson does a great job of working on two planes of spirituality simultaneously in this story of healing and redemption. You've likely already identified the higher plane from the first sentence of this review: the redemption of mankind and the healing of a created order groaning and suffering as it eagerly awaits revelation of the sons of God. (Rom. 8:19-23). The second plane is at the personal level, and it's where Mr. Robinson excels at the storytelling. While God is attending to the cosmos, Nick Castle and CT Barnes are hard at work on the ground. Christ's return is imminent, and there's no time to lose as these closest of friends seek out former comrades-in-arms from their days in Viet Nam. Nick and CT consider it paramount to witness to the men with whom they shared the most intense days of their lives before it's too late. That's what you do for your buddies. It's what you do for God.
But there's a new battle looming, one with potentially devastating consequences. While Nick and CT search for their old friends, a satanic cult has targeted their home church for destruction, including their families, their dearest friends and themselves. No one is aware of the plot until the cult launches its attack at the crux point of the story.
You. Will. Not. Want. To. Miss. The. Final. Showdown. Oh no, you will not.
In short, Heading Home achieves in one concise, high-powered novel what it took Left Behind to do in--how many volumes did the series finally turn out to be? All due respect and credit to Messrs. Jenkins and LaHaye, but, honestly, I gave up somewhere around number three or four. Sorry if that offends any die-hard LB fans; chalk it off to my limited attention span. In any event, if you ran the marathon with Left Behind, you'll enjoy the sprint with Heading Home. And it will leave you breathless.
— Bruce Judisch
Product Details: Trade Paperback: 304 Pages Language: English Publisher: Sheaf House ISBN: 978-0-9797485-5
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for providing a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bill Wiese is the New York Times best-selling author of 23 Minutes in Hell. A dedicated Christian since 1970, he has served in various capacities, including teaching and leading worship. He is an accomplished speaker and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. He lives with his wife, Annette, in Southern California.
List Price: $15.99 Hardcover: 160 pages Publisher: Charisma House; Har/DVD edition (July 6, 2010) Language: English ISBN-13: 978-1616380274
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8
Would you say that the leaders of our country are mean for constructing prisons? No, it’s your choice; you don’t have to go there. (See Deuteronomy 30:19; Psalms 9:17; 86:5; 145:8–9; Proverbs 11:19, 21; John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 2 Peter 2:9; Revelation 20:13–15.)
Besides, hell was not prepared for man but for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). God never intended for man to go there. Even now, He is preparing a place for us in heaven (John 14:2). It is only by man’s stubborn will that he rejects the provision God has made
for our access into heaven. It is arrogant of man to desire to go to heaven yet demand his own terms of access. If you want to live in God’s house, you come by His way and not your own (Luke 13:3; John 3:36; 14:6; Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:9–10; 1 Tim. 2:4–6).
Why is hell so horrific? Because God’s attributes are not present there. Many do not realize that the good we all enjoy is from God. Good doesn’t exist apart from Him. James 1:17 states, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.”
The same word, hetoimazo, is used in Matthew 25:41, where God prepared hell for the devil, as is used in John 14:2, where Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you” (emphasis added). God prepared heaven as His eternal home, filled with all the attributes of His holiness and glory. But in God’s preparation of hell, He removed all of His attributes, or goodness, from that place of torment. Spiritual death means to be separated from God, and to be separated from Him is to be separated from all good. As a consequence, this is the result:
• Hell is dark because God is light (1 John 1:5).
• Hell is only death because God is life (John 1:4).
• Hell is hatred because God is love (1 John 4:16).
• Hell has no mercy because the mercy of the Lord is in the heavens (Ps. 36:5).
• Hell is only weakness because the Lord is the giver of strength (Ps. 18:32).
• Hell is loud because “My people will dwell in . . . quiet resting places” (Isa. 32:18).
• Hell has no water because water is the rain of heaven (Deut. 11:11).
• Hell has no peace because Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).
The good we experience is because God allows us to enjoy it while we are here on the earth. Psalm 33:5 states, “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.”
However, if you want nothing to do with God, then there is a place prepared that has nothing to do with His goodness. His presence is there (Job 26:6; Ps. 139:8; Prov. 15:11; Rev. 14:10–11), in that it is before His face. However, His goodness and influence are removed.
He looks down upon it from heaven (1 Kings 8:30; Job 22:12; Ps. 11:4; 33:13; 102:19; 123:1; Prov. 15:3; Eccles. 5:2). Of course, God is in all places and sees all. I am simply saying that He has withdrawn His goodness from hell.
Proverbs 15:29 says, “The Lord is far from the wicked.” In 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9 we read, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”
Cast out from the presence of the Lord is the idea at the root of eternal death, the law of evil left to its unrestricted working, without one counteracting influence of the presence of God, who is the source of all light and holiness.1 —Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Essentially, hell is the place where all aspects of the presence of God will be completely withdrawn forever.2 —Henry M. Morris and Martin E. Clark
Dr. Robert Peterson said in his book Hell on Trial, “God is not present in hell in grace and blessing . . . He is present in hell, not in blessing, but in wrath.”3
However, there is one additional thing in hell. God’s wrath is present in the form of fire. The fires of hell are representative of His wrath (Deut. 32:22; Ps. 11:6; 21:8–9; Isa. 30:33; 33:14; 34:9; 66:24; Jer. 4:4; Mal. 4:1; Matt. 13:49–50; 18:8; Mark 9:43; John 15:6; Jude 7; Rev. 14:10–11; 20:10–15). The reason for this wrath is because sin must be punished (Rom. 6:23). God took out His anger on sin at the cross, as He poured out His wrath on Jesus (Ps. 22; Isa. 53; Matt. 17:12; Mark 9:12; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 24:26, 46; Heb. 9:26; 1 Pet. 2:24). However, if we don’t acknowledge Him and receive Him as our Lord, then we will take the punishment (2 Thess. 1:9–10; 2 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 14:10–11; 20:13–15). It is our choice.
Most of the other terrible things in hell are not experienced because of His wrath but because of His absence—the absence of His attributes and goodness (Prov. 15:29; 2 Thess. 1:9). We need to understand that good things are not just here by a series of coincidental random events but because they emanate from the presence of God (Ps. 90:2; Matt. 5:45; Luke 6:35; Col. 1:16; 1 Tim. 6:17). When some say that hell is only “separation from God,” as if that is no big deal, we can now grasp what that really means.
Many will look at the trees, the sky, the ocean, and so forth and comment, “Isn’t Mother Nature wonderful?” Well, it is not “Mother Nature,” but rather, “Father God” who provided all of the beauty we enjoy.
Just as prisons have been constructed to protect the innocent from those who are breakers of the law here on Earth, hell has been prepared for the offenders of God’s law. The simple solution is, don’t break God’s law. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3; see also John 3:36; Rom. 10:9–10). Proverbs 27:12 says:
A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished.
Remember this point: Just as prisons were not the first thing in mind when men came to this country, so too hell wasn’t God’s first intent when He made the earth and man. Nevertheless, hell exists— and it will be your own fault if you go there.
Salvation is a free gift, but we must receive it in order to be saved. God loves you and is a good Father. He is trying to keep you out of hell and to divert you from your misguided course.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
23 Questions About Hell is a follow-up, or companion volume, to Bill Wiese's best selling book 23 Minutes in Hell. Understandably, the first book, in which he related an out of body experience that temporarily took him to Hell, generated a number of theological questions. Questions that for the most part were discussed, dissected and settled by Christian Theologians hundreds of years ago. Based on the sometimes simplistic nature of the questions, I sense they are designed for an audience with little or no understanding of historic Christian theology...a group that unfortunately grows larger each year. Bill's responses to the questions are well-structured and his position is usually backed up with a number of Biblical references. Whether this is sufficient to convince an unbeliever, who can say?
This may sound strange, but I was somewhat bothered by the book's preoccupartion with Hell and damnation. I hear you saying, "Hey, it's a book about Hell; what did you expect?" I understand Bill's platform: I went to Hell. It's an awful place. You don't want to go there. And, though I agree with the conclusion, I've never been a big supporter of the scare tactics it engenders.
23 Questions About Hell is, at the very least, a thought provoking book. If it happens to make a person to think about their eternal destination, and, perhaps, causes them to alter their behavior, this is not a bad thing. This little book will then have accomplished its purpose.
Katie Converse is 17 and a Senate page on Capitol Hill. When she returns home to Portland, Oregon she takes her sister’s dog for a walk and disappears. Did she run away, was she abducted or possibly murdered? And, where is the dog?
In Face of Betrayal you will read entries from Katie’s MySpace page and learn that she was involved with someone. Was it another Senate page, or was something inappropriate going on between her and Oregon’s State Senator?
This is a Triple Threat novel that brings together FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges, Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce and Reporter Cassidy Shaw. The three friends work together to successfully solve the disappearance of this young girl.
Sub plots regarding each of the three women add to the story, and help transport it to a satisfying, surprise conclusion.
This is the first Lis Wiehl or April Henry novel I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. Face of Betrayal was an enjoyable read.
– Gail Lewis
Product Details: Hard Cover: 310 pages Language: English Publisher: Thomas Nelson ISBN: 978-1-59554-705-7
Cry of My Heart is a tender, thoughtful novel of faith and fate, love and loss, and the folly of youth matured by the wisdom of age. Ms. Bischof has crafted a unique story that will have you gritting your teeth on one page and then smiling and shaking your head on the next.
Ms. Bischof transports you – she really transports you – into the thick forests, craggy ravines, and rushing waters of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia through the lives of young Gideon and Lonnie O'Riley. Even if this book didn't have the magnificent cover that it does, by the time you've finished reading the story, this very picture would be firmly implanted in your mind's eye. You'll hear the crunch of autumn leaves underfoot and feel winter's snow soak through your leggin's as the couple strikes out through the wilds in search of a place they can call their own.
Gideon's faltering leadership lays his family bare to the perils of an unforgiving wilderness and the wiles of unscrupulous backwoodsmen, both of whom threaten the couple's relationship and very lives. Saved in the nick of time by the elderly Jebediah and Elsie Bennett, who take them in to help with the upkeep of their farm, Gideon and Lonnie learn through experience and example what it means to become a family – yes, the rewards, but especially the cost.
Carefully researched and lovingly portrayed, Cry of My Heart saturates every page with the ambiance of The Blue Ridge mountain culture and personality. Ms. Bischof's vivid descriptions of every aspect of the milieu, from the lay of the land to the spread on the kitchen table, paints a glorious picture. I mean, how can you read "A plate of pancakes was busy melting a pad of butter....She grabbed a chunk of pork sausage and popped it in her mouth" and not start salivating like the most compliant of Pavlov's dogs?
Finally, consider the title. Cry of My Heart – along with the cover – was what caught my eye and interested me in the story in the first place, but I love its poignancy now even more having read the book. There will indeed be a crying of the heart. You will feel it; you will share it.
Oh, one last thing: prepare to love Lonnie. You really just can't help yourself.
There are many excellent reasons César Vidal is an international bestselling author, and The Fisherman’s Testament is one of them.
In The Fisherman’s Testament, Señor Vidal blends superb storytelling with Scriptural truth into a powerful novelization of Mark’s Gospel. Originally penned in Spanish, nothing is lost in translation in this novel that garnered the Martinez-Roca Spirituality Prize in 2004. Consider the first sentences of the novel for a flavor of the author and his main character:
“I, Marcus Junius Vitalis, known amongst my men as the “Asiatic,” veteran soldier in the service of Rome, faithful companion of Cæsar Claudius and Cæsar Nero, know that I have arrived at the last stretch of this winding and bitter path we call life. Others will live on, be it for a shorter or longer time, but my life is ending. Before I know it, it will be utterly extinguished, and I will find myself cast onto the shores of a different world.”
It is from this perspective Vitalis relates his story of an encounter that upended his world view as a die-hard defender of Rome and staunch adherent to the ideals of the Empire, and framed his view of the “different world” now poised to receive him.
The setting is 62 AD Rome, in Nero’s palace. The Emperor commissions Vitalis to investigate a neo-Jewish cult who profess to follow the Christos. One of the last survivors of the original inner circle of the Christos, a fisherman named Petros, is imprisoned in Rome. Nero decides to lead the prosecution personally to ascertain why this cult that calls itself “The Way” did not die out after the crucifixion of its leader 30 years earlier, as so many other rebellions had in the past—indeed, it continues to grow, its influence now reaching into even the capital city. Vitalis joins Nero in the interrogation and hears the tale from the mouth of Petros through Mark, his companion and translator. Nero and Vitalis walk away with completely divergent impressions of the story they’ve heard.
Only 167 pages, this is a ‘quick read’; however, its impact will linger long after you reach the back cover. While nothing can replace Scripture, The Fisherman’s Testament is a worthy alternative text to recommend to someone who may never otherwise crack open the Bible. The power in hearing the Gospel is presented through the divinely inspired words of Petros and Mark, anticipated objections and misunderstandings of the message are delivered through the humanly understandable reactions of Nero and Vitalis, and the joy of reading excellent prose is delivered through the enviable literary skill of Señor Vidal. Tough combination to beat! – Bruce Judisch
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
Today's Wild Card author is: Mike Thaler (Author) and Jared Lee (Illustrator)
and the book: In the Big Inning: Bible Riddles from the Back Pew
Zonderkidz (February 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Krista Ocier of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Known as the Riddle King of America, Mike Thaler is the author of the popular Black Lagoon books and the Heaven and Mirth series. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and travels nationally, speaking in schools, libraries, and churches. Visit the author's website
Jared Lee is an accomplished illustrator with experience working for the likes of L.L. Bean, Procter and Gamble, Hasbro, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and the U.S. Postal Service. He currently resides in Lebanon, Ohio. Visit the illustrator's website
List Price: $4.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (February 1, 2010)
Summit's Review: Do you like groaners? You know, those jokes or riddles that are so bad they make you want to groan? I’ve never met a child who didn’t love a good groaner. Matter of fact, I like them too. What exactly that says about my level of maturity I’m not interested in finding out. However, when the potential to take a peek inside Mike Thaler’s Riddles from the Back Pew came along, I knew I couldn’t turn it down.
Page by page, I chuckled my way through this little book. It’s great fun with a bit of Bible education slipped in along the way. I’m sure you know a youngster or two who’d laugh out loud at the sheer silliness of some of Mike’s puns. Get them this book. Their happy giggles will make you glad you did.
—E. G. Lewis
Press the browse button to view the first chapter:
Today we’re looking at the fantastic book, GOD According to God.
I’m sure at one time or another we’ve all had the experience of being so captivated by an author that we want to read everything they’ve written. This has happened many times with a variety of authors from Charles Dickens to Leon Uris to Herman Wouk to Jean Auel. The reasons vary from their writing style, the storyline, the content, the characters…and so on.
Regardless, once you’re hooked, you’re hooked. The phenomena seemed to be restricted to fiction…until now. You may recall that several months ago I reviewed the book Genesis and the Big Bang by Gerald Schroeder. (In case you missed it, you can read the review here.)
I enjoyed my first taste of Schroeder’s combination of science and theology so much that I’ve found myself wanting more. And, happily, I found it in his book GOD According to God…subtitled A Physicist Proves We’ve Been Wrong About God All Along.
Utilizing the ancient sages of Judaism and his own training as an MIT physicist and an applied theologian, Schroeder dissects the Jewish Bible searching for clues as to what the creator of our universe is really like. In the process he explodes a lot of myths and invites the reader to look beyond the obvious and see what the hand of God has written between the lines of familiar passages. The God Schroeder presents is neither the vengeful, blood-thirsty ogre some claim to encounter in the Old Testament, nor is he the feel-good Sugar Daddy many would like him to be.
Nearly all Jews and Christians would agree that the Bible is the Word of God. You can learn a surprising amount of information about an author from the way in which they express themselves. Join Gerald Schroeder in this exploration of God. Like me, you’ll be surprised and enchanted by Schroeder’s wit and wisdom...and fascinated by the conclusions he draws.