Review – Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler

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Book description:

The Reformers viewed the gospel as not merely one thing among many in the life of a church but rather the means by which the church exists. When the gospel is rightly declared and applied to God’s people, the church becomes “a creature of the Word.” She understands, embraces, and lives out the reality of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection in more than her doctrinal statement. The gospel impacts all the church is and does.

Creature of the Word lays out this concept in full, first examining the rich, scripture-based beauty of a Jesus-centered church, then clearly providing practical steps toward forming a Jesus-centered church. Authors Matt Chandler, Eric Geiger, and Josh Patterson write what will become a center- ing discussion piece for those whose goal is to be part of a church that has its theology, culture, and practice completely saturated in the gospel.

First Impressions

As a youth leader at my church I’m always interested about learning from those with more experience in the ministry. Matt Chandler has become a favorite of mine since The Explicit Gospel, so this was a good opportunity to read his thoughts, along the two others authors, about a Jesus-centered church.

Content

For Chandler the gospel is about Jesus, with this concept in mind, all the sections of the book establish the way each part of the church is and must be influenced by the gospel.

The gospel centers us on Jesus’ person an work or it isn’t the gospel… and it isn’t where our first love should be. Ultimately, the gospel is not a nebulous or ethereal concept, but Jesus Himself. – Matt Chandler p.7

There are two main sections of this book, the first one is about the way the church functions as a body or as a building. It’s easy to follow the basic idea: A gospel saturated church and its implications versus the lack of the gospel in the church and its negative implications.

Worship gatherings are not always spectacular, but they are always supernatural. And if a church looks for or works for the spectacular, she may miss the supernatural. p.42

The other half of the book deals with the different ministries in the church and the dynamic between them. For this, Chandler believes the ministries of the Old Testament: Priest, Prophet and King are still present in the leadership of each church in different forms but still with the same essence.

Some leaders are primarily prophets, uniquely gifted to declare truth. Some leaders are primarily priests, uniquely gifted to shepherd people to wholeness and maturity. And some leaders are primarily kings, specifically gifted to provide clear direction. p.114

I really liked this part since it provides many principles that can be applied to any areas of the church, to its theology, philosophy and practices. There’s even a chapter called Jesus-Centered Flower Committee overstating the importance of the gospel in each and every corner of the church.

Conclusion

There are many good books about what a true, biblical church. But I found this book very easy to understand, you don’t have to be a leader in your church to find it useful for your life. But if you serve in your local church, Creature of the Word is a must.

Rating: 

I received this book for free from B & H Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Review – The Maxwell Leadership Bible, NIV

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Bible description:

The Leadership expert, John Maxwell, provides an in-depth look at God’s laws for leaders and leadership, directly connected to the Bible. Now for the first time, the content of The Maxwell Leadership Bible is paired with the bestselling New International Version.

Features include:

- Complete NIV Bible text and translators’ notes
– Book introductions
– Articles describing the 21 Laws of Leadership and the 21 Qualities of a Leader
– Notes throughout the Bible that connect with the Laws and Qualities
– Indexes to the 21 Laws of Leadership and the 21 Qualities of a Leader

First Impressions

After reading a couple of books by John C. Maxwell, I didn’t hesitate and requested this Bible for review and I’m glad I did it. This is a hardcover Bible and this edition in particular it’s easy to handle, not too thin, not to thick. You can remove the book jacket and the Bible still looks great, dark green with golden letters in the spine.

Special Features

If you’re familiar with Maxwell’s teachings you’ll find his notes in this Bible very helpful. I read 1st John to have an idea of the content and everything was in the right place. The notes and lessons are placed among the text but thankfully they’re not confusing and you can easily distinguish between one thing and another.

Layout & Design

I’d say minimalist is the best word to describe the design of this Bible. Green and grey are used throughout the whole Bible. Typeface is clear and thanks to the appropriate line spacing the verses are easy to read. It seems every detail was carefully taken care of, I have nothing bad to say about it.

Conclusion

I’d recommend this Bible to everyone that is willing to learn about leadership and influence. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pastor or a young person in a leadership position. Leadership is the focus of this Bible, so if you’re looking for a deeper theological study Bible maybe this one is not for you.

I received this Bible from the Book Look bloggers program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Storm Siren by Mary Weber

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Book description:
“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth—meaning, she shouldn’t even exist. Click here to continue reading

First Impressions

What an awesome cover!!! A girl with white hair, with strange marks on her arm, and lightnings coming out from her fist. But that’s not all, she’s standing in a defiant position against a dark building among dry trees covered by snow, or so it seems. I choose this book among others from the Book Look review program and I got to say the cover was the only thing I liked from this book.

Story

The story had a lot of potential, we’re introduced to a fantasy world with kingdoms in conflict. There is royalty involved, monsters, humans with elemental powers and our girl who’s not supposed to exist. The word epic fantasy could be chosen to describe all this things, but actually the word average fantasy is the one I had in mind during my reading.

The worldbuilding was poor. In my last review I said this:

There are authors who believe their readers automatically know the world where the story takes place, and they fail to make the world feel real and alive.

Well, this was the feeling Storm Siren made me feel. Every time we’re introduced to new places or characters the lack of details was present, at least this was how I felt. For this type of story I was waiting for something else, more vividness, more epicness and less:

He’s got his shirt off, showing muscles hardened through what must’ve been months of training. p.58

Characters

Nym is the protagonist, a slave girl that is getting used to be sold again and again until she finishes with Adora an extravagant woman with secret intentions. I could never know what was Nym’s real mood. Most of the time she was really upset, because of her background I kinda understand the rude behavior she had. What I couldn’t understand was the constant romantic tension with Eogan. The following quotes are just an example:

The firelight bounces off his dark skin, making it glimmer. It’s beautiful. p.50

And then Eogan’s lips are on mine. Pressing. Calming. One hand slides to my waist while his other tangles its way through my hair, pulling me in, forcing his heated mouth harder to mine… p. 175

At times I felt Nym was like Bella describing Edward with endless adjectives.

The trio formed by Colin, Eogan and Nym felt forced and flat. There was no dynamic happening between them. Adora and Colin are the characters that I believe have a strong potential if developed better for the next two installments of this series. But for this one I just couldn’t relate to no one.

Spiritual Content

Storm Siren is published by Thomas Nelson and while I was not expecting a preachy kind of book, the preachy side was never there. There are some glimpses at the very end of the book that also felt forced. It was like the christian allegory was more a requirement than the core of the story.

Conclusion

I didn’t like this book and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Being honest, this is one of those books I want to finish just because I like to finish what I started, not because I’m excited about it. And I’m pretty sure this is my first two star review. Believe me, it’s not my intention to bash the author or her efforts, I’m just trying to share my personal experience.

Rating:

I received this book from the Book Look bloggers program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Blog Hop – If I Had One Year Left to Live

Blog Hop – If I Had One Year Left to Live

If you’ve been around here for the last weeks, then you’ll notice I’ve been posting about a book called A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes. I’ve been part of this amazing launch team for a couple of weeks and that’s why my first post was a guest post by the author and then my review for the book.

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Now it’s my turn to write my entry for Nadine’s blog hop. This is the first time I’m part of a blog hop but I couldn’t resist to write about such a thoughtful and hypothetical question: How would you live with one year left?

If I Had One Year Left to Live I’d tell my family and close friends about my future death. Not sure how this would make them feel, but I believe it’d be the right thing. An even I’d win some curious followers, I definitely wouldn’t share my announcement through facebook or twitter. An about to die selfie? No thanks.

Sharing a cake with the interns this year

Three years ago I started to lead the internship program at my church. Every year I’m in charge of up to ten young people (between 18 & 25 years old). During ten months we enjoy God in prayer and worship, the interns practice and learn at the different departments and ministries at our church, also they go out in a mission trip in our country to share and manifest God’s presence.

It may sound really strange but one of the first things I would do is to quit my church job. Nothing against it, actually the reason would be still to be close to young people, but maybe with only two or three that would be willing to learn with me in my last year. This would be a more intimate kind of discipleship and also would give me ‘enough’ time to do other activities.

Unlike some of the blog hop participants, I’d start writing my first book. This is something I’ve been feeling I must do at some point in my life and if this is my last year then I couldn’t waste more time. I’d do what I can to see it published.

Of course my family would be a priority, and I’d spend a significant time with them. My mom and my sister are the closest family I got so It’d be easier to travel with them. Spain, England, France and Italy would be in our list.

Perhaps I’d use a month to visit the rest of my family, those who live in Mexico and other countries. I’d say good bye to each one of them, take a picture to make a ‘last year album’  and give a letter to each one of them, with a personal message. This would give me a chance to travel around my country one last time.

For my last day I’d throw a party with my family and closest friends. They’d know that even tough I’m about to die, I’m gonna go to a better place into eternity with God. I’d have Family Force 5 and Hillsong United giving a concert (hey, at least I’d try).

Finally, in my last minutes, I would go to bed and pray before I sleep one last time.


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About A Time To Die:

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.
But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

This is the first book in the Out of Time Series. Releases September 23rd from Enclave Publishing. Get your ebook copy on Amazon.

Find and follow Nadine Brandes: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads 

If you want to win a signed copy of A Time To Die and an Amazon gift card, enter the blog hop give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The blog hop started this month, here’s the list of the people participating, go and check the ones before me to read their entries:

9.03.14 – Nadine Brandes

9.08.14 – Ashlee Willis

9.11.14 – Caitlin Schesser

9.15.14 – Jennette Mbewe

9.17.14 – Heather Fitzgerald

9.19.14 – Kristen Stieffel

9.22.14 – Rebekah Gyger

9.25.14 – Lydia Thomas

9.26.14 – Ashley Olson

9.27.14 – Angel Roman

9.28.14 – Rosalie Valentine

9.29.14 – Aubrei Crooke-Adams

9.30.14 - Sarah Grimm

10.01.14 – Jon Del Arroz

10.02.14 – Amy Brandes

10.04.14 – Kathrese McKee

10.07.14 – Karen DeBlieck

10.09.14 – Bethany Jennings

10.10.14 – Angie Brashear

10.13.14 – Adam Collings

10.15.14 – Bree Courtney

10.20.14 – Gretchen Engel

10.24.14 – JC Morrows

10.30.14 – Lisa Gedfries

Review – A Time To Die by Nadine Brandes

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Book description:

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to help in the launch team for Nadine Brandes‘ debut novel,  A Time To Die. It’s been an awesome experience and after receiving and reading an early eARC copy this is my review.

First impressions

I only knew about Nadine from her blog, don’t even know how I got there in the first place, but I’ve been subscribed to her reviews and having read The Hunger Games and Divergent, (book #1) I was excited to read my first christian dystopian novel. I must confess I didn’t like the cover, but you now, I’m a graphic designer which makes me very picky about visual stuff.

Story

Having a clock displaying the remaining time of your life is a frightening idea. In A Time to Die we are introduced to a society where its citizens are used to this lifestyle but also under punishment when anyone tries to be free from this burden, or in this case, a real clock given at their birth.

The worldbuilding was detailed yet not boring. There are authors who believe their readers automatically know the world where the story takes place, and they fail to make the world feel real and alive. Thankfully this is not Nadine‘s situation. Even when the characters are constantly moving from one place to another it’s easy to identify and have a mental picture of each one of them.

But this not only applies to places. From things like the economic system used by the society to the complex technological inventions that could be easily part of any science fiction movie.

Characters

Parvin, the main character, reminded me Christian from The Pilgrim Progress. She’s a girl in search for purpose and freedom in the last year of her life. Through the story Parvin must face different trials, some related to her family, some related to her destiny that eventually will serve as a means to a closer relationship with God.

I guess Jude is the next character that will be the favorite to many (girls, lol). He has this type of shy but bold kind of personality that will serve as a catalyst to Parvin. As a guy I’m glad the ‘romance’ between these two characters is totally believable and congruent with the pace of the narrative.

There are several characters in this first book, but believe me, they carry almost the same weight and charisma than the protagonist. Personally I enjoyed meeting Skelley Chase, a professional writer that will be involved in the process of Parvin to be known by the world.

Spiritual Content

Since A Time to Die is a christian dystopian novel, you’ll find faith infused throughout the pages of the book. That being said, this makes this novel a wonderful story full of hope, where God is present in the life of a girl that is starting to discover a personal relationship with Him. In this story being a christian doesn’t mean everything in life is perfect, is more about everything that could go wrong going wrong with the assurance that God is with you.

Conclusion

This may be Nadine Brandes’ debut novel but is definitely worth a look. If you loved The Hunger Games and/or Divergent you gotta read A Time to Die. You can pre-order both formats, kindle and paperback (or both, why not?) through Amazon.

Rating: 

I received an eARC from the author in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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