Tuesday, January 31, 2012


We’ve all heard the expression “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” In the B. C. Fleming’s case, his lemons came courtesy of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. 

On a sunny afternoon in late July, 2006 a convoy in which Fleming was traveling was attacked. He and his colleagues were driving along when a car pulled in front and then slowed down. The driver of Fleming’s vehicle decided to pass and, when they pulled alongside the car, the man detonated his explosives just three feet from the Humvee’s door. Fleming woke up in a ditch, bloody and burned, with multiple life-threatening injuries. After reconstructive surgery and fourteen months of agonizingly difficult rehabilitation he decided it was time to quit whining and get on with his life. 

Fleming packs a lot into this relatively short and easy to read book. Never The Same begins with his conversion experience as a Sophomore in High School. From there it moves to his enlistment following graduation, meeting the young woman who would later become his wife, and being stationed in Afghanistan where he not one, but two, encounters with suicide bombers. The first time he walked away without a scratch. He was not so lucky the second time. 

Realizing that hate and regret were not the foundation of a fulfilling life, Fleming has used his struggles to strengthen and motivate others. When dealing with a difficult person, we are sometimes told to write them a letter telling them how we feel…and then throw it away instead of mailing it. Fleming kept his and it’s the highlight of the book. In it he expresses pity for the unfortunate man who threw his life away and forgives him.  

He also expresses two critical theological points that our world often overlooks. The first compares Islam to Christianity: “Your god says, ‘Sacrifice your sons for me as suicide bombers.’ My God says, ‘I sacrificed my son (Jesus Christ) for you.’” The second thought is based on Romans 8:28 “God works all things together for the good of those who love him…” Fleming then points out that it is impossible to truly harm a believer. No matter you hate or hurt them God will use it for their ultimate good. That’s something to hold onto when life seems overwhelming.

We’d rate this powerful testimony to the power of the human spirit a must read.

We thank B&B Media for providing this review copy of Never The Same in exchange for an honest review. Visit Brian on his websiteBlownUpGuy.com.

—E. G. Lewis

Product Details
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Fleming Continuing Education Programs
Pages: 170
ISBN: 978-0692004074

Monday, January 30, 2012

FIRST SNOW by Christine Cunningham

I feel old. When a character mentions digital music in Christine Cunningham’s First Snow I think of CDs, but “Who uses CDs anymore?” Still, feeling old doesn’t stop me enjoying this tale, nor does the way my stomach lurches in dismay at the thought of a “cup of hot chocolate and a plate of fries.”

First Snow is a delightful Christmas tale of a young woman who also feels old (and listens to CDs). Nell’s dreams of spouse and family seem to recede with the passing years, but it’s not clear if she’s driving suitors away or simply waiting for the right man. When he appears, will she ever let him close?

Nell works in a bakery where she meets the handsome Hasan, but it’s her interest in writing that throws her more closely into his company, and the author builds a pleasingly gentle romance between the two. Clearly made for each other, they tread carefully and warily on the slippery snows of relationships while Christmas weaves its spell. Meanwhile sister Sydney plays matchmaker in all the wrong places, but true love will surely win through.

One final obstacle threatens all Nelly’s dreams, but there’s a surprise in store that turns frost to Christmas beauty. The artificial dance of romance has some intriguingly pleasing twists, making this a good short tale for Christmas or any cold dark day.
Sheila Deeth

Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this novella from WoMen’s Literary CafĂ© in exchange for an honest review.

Format: Kindle Edition 
File Size: 159 KB
Publisher: Eternal Beginning Publishing
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B006DA006A
Text-to-Speech: Enabled 
Lending: Enabled

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We were offered a chance to review the new Common English Bible (CEB) and decided it deserved consideration. By the way, a post similar to this one also appears on the Sowing the Seeds Blog devoted to The Life and Times of the Early Christians. You can visit HERE.

The 8 ¾ x 5 ¾ [large enough to read, small enough to easily carry] Thinline copy that we received contained the full Apocrypha between Testaments. [It’s available with or without.] It features a black DecoTone cover with gilt-edged pages and a ribbon marker. Inside, it has a two column format with 9 point type [not huge, but readable] with in-text subject headings, eight full color maps from National Geographic, study aids and a topical index. In short, it’s a nice presentation. One thing it did not have was all the red type in the Gospels, which I personally find distracting.

The CEB is designed for cross-denominational use and was created by a team of 118 Biblical scholars representing 22 Protestant denominations. It was field tested by 77 groups chosen from 13 separate denominations. The Common English Bible was built from the ground up, so to speak. It is a new translation, not a revision or update of an existing Bible. The work was funded by a co-operative group formed by the denominational publishers serving the Disciples of Christ, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church.

To be fair, I have to admit I’m enough of a traditionalist that at first glance the idea of a Bible using common phrases and terminology makes me a little uncomfortable. Some of these “modern translations” of the verses we’ve come to know and love lose something when they don’t sound the way they always did. As I thought about it, I realized that the King James Version (KJV) and other older translations also contained common English…for their time.

So maybe there’s something to be said for a Bible that’s more accessible, particularly by the younger generation. You may love your Thees, Thous and Thys, but if a newer translation is what it takes to hook the next generation, I say “Go for it.” The important thing is underlying content. When all is said and done, the only thing that really matters is to keep what the words mean essentially the same.

The publisher suggested that reviewers compare this new translation to several of their favorite passages. In order to do this I went to Bible Gateway, an online Bible resource, and found their top 100 Bible Passages based on 25 million searches. Here are a few comparisons. I’ve used the Revised Standard Version for comparison purposes. It’s a newer edition of the KJV.

Here’s number one on their list, John 3:16
RSV: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
CEB: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.

Number three on the list, Rom 8:28
RSV: We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
CEB: We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Number twenty-two on the list, Matt 28:20
RSV: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.
CEB: Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.

Number twenty-five on the list, Phil 4:8
RSV: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
CEB: From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.

A personal favorite Isa 54:10
RSV: For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
CEB: The mountains may shift, and the hills may be shaken, but my faithful love won’t shift from you, and my covenant of peace won’t be shaken, says the LORD, the one who pities you.

Last, but not least, Ps 23:1-3
RSV: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
CEB: The LORD is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters; he keeps me alive. He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.

I believe in each of the examples the translators accurately followed the original meaning. The purchase of a Bible is a very personal thing and, if you’re like me, it requires taking it for a “Test Drive.” You can do just that at the CEB website HERE.

You’ll also find the Common English Bible in stores that sell Bibles. I recommend you give it strong consideration…especially as a birthday or graduation gift for a younger person in your life.  
—E.G. Lewis

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Reading Revelation is a textbook-style, analytic presentation of the Book of Revelation. In it, C. Marvin Pate attempts to contrast four interpretations of Revelation…The Preterist View, The Historical View, The Futurist View and the Idealist View. 

First, let’s talk about the physical book. The review copy we received was an over-sized trade paperback. This is apparently the only format available. Revelation is a book that has fascinated and confounded readers since the earliest of times. I am sure many people will be interested in having this book and its softcover binding costs less, making the book available to a wider audience.

The book utilizes a five-column format which places the original Greek and an English translation on the left with the four interpretations in parallel columns. Because it must be read across rather than down, I worry it may not stand up well to the repeated readings a typical End of Times aficionado will give it.

Reading Revelation is presented as an unbiased, academic presentation of four views of Revelation. In my opinion this is not the case. We all know there are multiple approaches to the Book of Revelation; probably as many as the people who read it. However, I noticed two disturbing trends in this book. First, it is not unusual to find all but the Historistic View given a cursory once over. Secondly, the author doesn’t credit any sources for what he terms the Historistic View.

I am left with the conclusion that the Historistic View is, in actuality, a reflection of Mr. Pate’s personal prejudices. This is most apparent in passages such as 12:1-6 or 12:13-17. Without exception, the Church fathers saw these passages (the woman clothed with the sun and bringing forth her child) as a reference to Mary, the Mother of our Lord, and the infant the dragon wished to devour as the Christ. In Pate’s convoluted hermeneutics these end up being references to the Church.

From beginning to end Pate’s Historistic View is nothing more than an Anti-Catholic rant.  Prejudice and narrow-mindedness are a fact of life, but to see it presented under the guise of a supposed scholarly work is disappointing.  I, for one, expected more.

Kregel Publications provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
—E.G. Lewis

Product Details:
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Kregel Academic & Professional (December 18, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825433673
ISBN-13: 978-0825433672

Friday, January 6, 2012

THE SKIN MAP by Stephen R. Lawhead - An Audio Book

I’ve never read any of Stephen R. Lawhead’s other books, so I had no expectations for this one. It was the concept that excited me. When given an opportunity by Thomas Nelson, Inc. to review an unabridged audio version of this novel, I jumped at the chance and appreciated the opportunity.  

The first in the Bright Empires series, and written by a British author, this audio version is also read by someone with a British accent. Nowhere on my CDs, or on the case, does it tell whose voice is recorded. At the beginning of the first CD, I think it says, “Read by Simon Bubb.” However, “Bubb” could actually be something that sounds similar.  

I found the British accent sometimes difficult to understand and often too much of a monotone. As the novel progressed, and I became more familiar with him, it got better. The reader also seemed to add more voice inflections farther into the narrative. I suspect I’d have enjoyed reading this book more than listening to it, however.  I had some difficulty following the story lines and found myself backing up the CD to re-listen on several occasions. It’s easier to do this by turning a page than searching on a CD.  

The concept of time travel via ley lines was intriguing. The historical settings were interesting too. I wanted more time with the man who sported the tattooed skin map. He and the Asian woman he loved were more interesting than the main character, Kit, or his great grandfather. Kit never really appealed to me. He wasn’t fleshed out enough.  

On the other hand, Kit’s girlfriend, Wilhelmina was very likeable. Her adventures were fun to listen to and I hoped she’d fall in love and marry the Austrian partner she opens a bakery and coffee house with. Will that happen in a later book? Better him than Kit.  

I was disappointed by the deaths of two major characters, and even more so in the way the novel came to an abrupt halt. It didn’t satisfy and left everything unfinished. Okay, so there will be other books in the series and I’m going to want to read them. But, I wish it had not left so many loose ends. If only the author had at least tied up some of them.  

In the next book, I hope we’ll be shouting, “Go Wilhelmina!”
—Gail Lewis  

Product Details: Audio Edition
Listening Length: 11 hours and 24 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Language: English