Did Josh Harris re-title his book to ride the coat tails of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise?

June 6, 2011

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, I’m a big fan of Joshua Harris’ latest book on the importance of sound theology.

What I’m not a big fan of, however, is his chronic changing of his book titles. He owned up to this compulsion recently when another blogger called him on this odd practice.

The book Not Even A Hint became Sex Is Not The Problem. Then, it was changed back again. Stop Dating The Church morphed into Why Church Matters.

When will the madness end?

Not yet, it seems.

In an apparent attempt to confuse buyers into thinking his latest book is a biography of the star of the insanely popular Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, Dug Down Deep has been renamed Dug Down Depp. Make no mistake, Johnny Depp has nothing to do with Harris’ book.

But you know what the real scandal is? That I made the whole thing up.

Well, not the part about the changes to the earlier book titles. But Dug Down Deep is still Dug Down Deep. And it’s still a darn good book that you should buy right away.

Say … you know what else has been re-titled? My blog.

The awkwardly named FacesOfLions.wordpress.com is now FacesOfLions.net. And it’s not just the name that has been changed. It’s a new website with all manner of shiny buttons and stuff to go along with the usual nonsense I foist upon unsuspecting folks.

The old site that you’re reading this post on will soon be retired. So, CLICK HERE to visit the new site and subscribe so you don’t miss out on anything!

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Book review: Nick of Time

May 17, 2011

Nick Polchak is spending some time in the Poconos the week of his wedding. Unfortunately, it’s murder and not marriage that brings him to the popular honeymoon destination.

That’s the kickoff for Nick of Time, a new thriller by Tim Downs. This story is the latest in a series of novels about a brilliant, yet socially awkward forensic entomologist. His study of insects that collect on corpses enables him to solve countless crimes, which makes him something of a minor celebrity among other forensic scientists.

Nick heads out of town just days before his wedding to Alena, a dog trainer who is almost as quirky as himself, to assist a colleague who’s stumped by a cold case. Needless to day, she is unhappy with his prenuptial road trip, and fears that it will interfere with the ceremony.

I found the story to be very engrossing. Nick is a refreshingly original sleuth, and the murder mystery that captivates him to the point of forgetting about the girl he’s left behind, arrested me as well.

The author is masterful with dialogue throughout Nick of Time. Nick, Alena, and the supporting cast of suspects and law enforcement professionals pepper each other with witty remarks and sarcasm at a pace that reminded me of the banter between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in the 80s television series Moonlighting.

In fact, the verbal zingers are just a little too plentiful. When everyone in a story has a perfectly timed, comedic comeback, it feels like the author’s voice is drowning out the characters. Given Tim Down’s past experience as a comic strip creator, where each panel requires a humorous moment, that shortfall is understandable.

That minor weakness aside, I found Nick of Time to be the most enjoyable Christian novel I’ve read all year. From it’s fast start to it’s unexpected and emotionally complex conclusion, this book is a great choice for your summertime reading.

The publisher provided me a complimentary book. I provided a complimentary book review. In other words, if the book was crappy, I could have told you without jeopardizing a paycheck. Sounds about right doesn’t it?


Book Review: The Next Story

May 10, 2011

If anyone is qualified to write a book about a Christian perspective on the Internet, it’s Tim Challies. His blog is among the most popular websites for people of faith, and is always a reliable guide to faith, theology, church culture and the wider world.

His new book is titled The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. Though other authors have explored the hazards represented by the proliferation of pornography on the Internet, Challies offers a much broader perspective on digital diversions and their impact on our lives. He frames the discussion about websites, social media, communication and entertainment to provide a prudent and balanced understanding of the opportunities and pitfalls represented by technological advances throughout history.

One viewpoint I found particularly helpful was his opinion that digital media can be a temptation in and of itself, but also can be an enabler of other temptations. For example, a man who fuels his lustful thoughts with lurid images can connect with an avalanche of pornography online. In the same way, a woman who fails to exercise self-control in terms of use of finances finds a wide, paved highway to overspending simply by launching her web browser.

The Next Story should prove to be an invaluable resource to families and churches who want to learn how to own electronic gadgets rather than being owned by them. Chapters include useful questions and application sections that will facilitate discussion and reflection, and key takeaways are summarized at the end of the book. As a father, I’m looking forward to exploring many of the enclosed concepts with my children.

Are you ever nagged by a suspicion that the Internet, cell phones and other digital technologies are having an unhealthy impact on your life?
The publisher provided a complimentary review copy of this book. In turn, I provided the above review.


Book review: The Corruptible

April 13, 2011

Ray Quinn is having a bad day. The private investigator has been cornered in a public restroom by his client’s cheating husband, who administers a brutal beat-down for documenting his infidelities. Ray’s young apprentice intervenes, but not before the ex-cop collects a number bruises to go along with the continual ache of his crippled hip.

That’s just the introduction to The Corruptible, a new novel by Mark Mynheir. Like his protagonist, the author is a former cop with the Orlando Police Department. Mynheir uses his experience on the force to add a level of depth and detail often lacking in crime stories.

The book follows Ray as he works to recover important client information that has been stolen from a prestigious financial company. The investigator encounters murder and mayhem along the way, and makes discoveries about himself as he struggles under the weight of his infirmity and guilt associated with past tragedies.

I felt the book would have benefited from more character development. There just isn’t much insight provided for the reader to understand the motivations of the good guys or the bad guys.  That said, the intrigue and action of The Corruptible make it great book for fans of crime novels looking for light summer reading.


Rob Bell book gets pastor fired

March 24, 2011

Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins undermines the biblical truth about hell. That has gotten a lot of people fired up.

Now, it’s gotten someone fired.

The Associated Press reports:

The pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.

Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow’s Chapel in Henderson.

You can read the rest of the article here.

This whole controversy has reminded me of the importance of theology. What you believe about God shapes your entire life. I’m freshly appreciative about another book that came out in the last year or so. In Dug Down Deep, author Joshua Harris makes a compelling case about why right doctrine is critical to the believer. And he does so in a style that is very compelling to the young people who are the primary target audience of Rob Bell’s controversial book. I blogged about one chapter titled “God with a bellybutton” in a recent post.

Have you read Dug Down Deep? What did you think of the book?


Book review: The Resurrection

March 21, 2011

Pastor Ian Clark has issues. He’s tormented by regular appearances of a ghost that wants something of him. Something he can’t quite figure out on his own. But he’s also haunted by the difficulty of hiding his shipwrecked faith, failed marriage, and the soul-crushing tragedy of his sister’s horrible death.

Homemaker Ruby case has troubles of her own. She is literally limping through life due to an injury sustained at birth, and is figuratively hobbled by her husband who wants nothing to do with her faith or her church. When her touch raises a dead boy to life unexpectedly, the miracle becomes more of a curse than a blessing to the confused Ruby.

These broken individuals are the central characters of The Resurrection, a new supernatural thriller by Mike Duran. Their struggles add a depth and humanity that is often missing in contemporary Christian fiction. I was moved by their plight and could identify with the weaknesses that defined Ian and Ruby.

First-time novelist Duran does an excellent job in rendering a sense of dread and foreboding that pervades the residents and environment of the Stonetree, a small coastal town that is the battlefield for outsized but unseen spiritual forces. That suffocating atmosphere builds as dramatic events and surprising discoveries force Ian and Ruby together as unlikely heroes at the front line of the conflict.

I found The Resurrection to be a thoroughly engaging thriller. That said, I would not commend some of the theology that underpins the depiction of the occult powers that menace Stonetree residents. While I agree with the existence of demons and the enslaving influence of participating in pagan religious practices, the approach that Ian and Ruby take in confronting them seem to be inspired more by novels like Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness than by the pages of the New Testament.

To see what other bloggers thought of The Resurrection, click the links below:

Noah Arsenault
Brandon Barr
Red Bissell
Book Reviews By Molly
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Wanda Costinak
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Janey DeMeo
Cynthia Dyer
Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Gavin Patchett
Sarah Sawyer
Andrea Schultz
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White

 

I received a complimentary review copy of the book from the publisher.


First book review of “Love Wins.” What does it say about Rob Bell’s beliefs about hell?

March 9, 2011

The video promoting Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins kicked up an avalanche of interest and controversy because it suggested that the author held an unorthodox and dangerous view of the doctrine of hell.

Some encouraged a “wait and see” attitude, deferring comment on the video in lieu of reading the book when released. Other felt that delay was unhelpful, and responded strongly about the theology implied in the video.

I posted about it here and here.

Now, the first review (based on a reading of an Advance Reader Copy provided by the publisher) is out on Tim Challies’s website. The reviewer highlighted this passage by Bell:

A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better…. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.

The rest of the lengthy, but worthwhile, review is here. Unfortunately, it appears that those hoping the book would communicate an evangelical teaching on salvation will be disappointed.

Do you plan on reading Love Wins?