Category Archives: Reviews and Recommendations

Dinah Harris Mysterys by Julie Cave

If you enjoy getting lost in a book that takes on today’s issues, provides suspense, has a Christian foundation, great character development and leaves you wanting more then I strongly recommend you check out Julie Cave’s series “Dinah Harris Mystery”.

In the first book, Deadly Disclosures, you meet Dinah Harris, a once FBI golden agent  who has stepped onto a path of self destruction after becoming focused more on career than life.  The story takes you through the underworld of power mongers and high profile individuals who are more interested in fulfilling their personal agendas than what is truly best for the nation and world; the true idea of selling their soul.

I found myself very involved in trying to redeem Dinah from her despair and downward spiral.  I was greatly pleased with the way the author weaved characters into the story that had heart and soul; who worked to further the case for Christianity without being overbearing “Bible thumpers”.  Dinah’s nemesis is truly someone you want to despise yet respect his past accomplishments; if they had only been used to further the good causes.  All of the characters are rich and believable in the settings they are placed.

The second book, The Shadowed Mind, begins a new chapter for the lead character and shows just how hard it is to get on the right path and stay there.  The story enters a frightening world where individuals determine the worth of others and discloses some horrible facts about our history.  It also opens up questions about our moral obligations and health care ideas.

The newest addition to this series which was released May 31, 2011 in paperback and a few days earlier on Kindle continues the quality read I’ve come to expect and appreciate.  The main character, Dinah, continues to develop her faith and moves forward on the path of life.  I picked out the bomber early on but didn’t want it to be true; I was truly saddened when it was revealed but the work of redemption was only beginning.  Who knows maybe a later book will change the sentence and another life can begin on a new path.

I not only have been entertained by these books but I have learned new and startling information about people and just how terrible humanity can be.  These books take on the issues of state versus religion, atheism, humanism, alcoholism, Alzheimer disease, eugenics, abuse, power, greed, corruption as well as salvation and  the worth of all of humanity.

Now to patiently wait for the next installment in this wonderful series.  There will be one won’t there?

 

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Navigating Change by John van de Laar

Unless you are totally living in a bubble and have no interactions with the world whatsoever or you are dead (in which case I don’t think you would be reading this post) some form of change is occurring in your life right now.  Many of us are in change in several parts of our life.  Some change is small and barely recognizable and other change is huge and can be seen as either bad or good.

John van de Laar (Sacredise) has compiled an audio series to “Navigating Change” that takes you through what he has identified as the 4 phases of change: Catalyst, Chaos, Clarity and Cohesion.  John doesn’t just explain the 4 phases he points out ways to effectively deal with each phase.  John says: “When we try to evaluate or predict what change will bring to us it’s not the change that counts; it’s how we choose to deal with it.”  He points out that sometimes the change we think is going to be good turns out bad and what we think will be bad turns out to be really good.

This audio series is broken down into 7 sessions that last just about an hour total but each session can easily be listened to in just a few minutes.  The sessions provide a wonderful introduction to four phases and covers each of the phases individually.  The introduction and closing are great reminders that I listen to for a quick pick me up when my change starts to feel a little overwhelming.

If you are facing a major change, or if you recognize that you could use some help dealing with the change that is happening now in your life than I recommend that you go to the Sacredise website and get your copy of this audio series on “Navigating Change”.  It will be an inspiring and informational purchase.

Even if you don’t need help with change but are looking for some wonderful worship and ministry resources check out John’s website.  You can also follow John on Twitter @Sacredise and on Facebook.

Dear Microsoft

What a ripoff.  Someone buys a new computer and Office 2007 software with promise of upgrade to Office 2010 when it is released but you put a time limit on when it expires to upgrade.

Now I can understand the limit on buying the software but when someone spends the money and then you only give them so many days to upload a new version that is really not fair.

I bought a new computer in June and purchased the Office 2007 software in order to upgrade to the 2010.  When I first tried to upgrade there were problems doing it and I didn’t have time to make it work so I had to put it aside.  Time passed and then I downloaded the trial version of Office 2010 and was using it.  More time passed and before my trial version ran out I discovered that my deal had expired.

I tried contacting you about the situation and give you a chance to make it right but you stuck by your guns: I had missed the deadline…SOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I’ve learned my lesson.  No more purchases from Microsoft with any promises attached; and quite possibly no more purchases period.  I’m out over $100.

I have been really faithful to your products but no more.  Hmmm, where did you say that Apple store was?

Sincerly,

A very disappointed customer.

The Hour That Changes Everything – John van de Laar

“To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”  – William Temple

Worship incorporates these elements:  Holiness – Truth – Imagination – Love – Purpose

I have for the last couple of months been savoring a book.  I had originally started out with the intent to read it quickly and write a review but as I began reading found that I couldn’t do that.  The Hour That Changes Everything: How worship forms us into the people God wants us to be by John van de Laar deserves more than a quick read, more than a purview, more than a taste; it deserves to be studied, meditated upon, grasped and implemented.  It is a must read not just for pastors and worship leaders but anyone who ever crosses the threshold of a church door or sits in a pew for a specified “worship” time.  This book is not about how to do worship but how to enter in, be engaged by and most importantly be changed by the time spent in worship.  This book is not a difficult or demanding read but it will, if read with an open heart to God demand response to it.

As a United Methodist Pastor and worship leader with over 15 years of experience in churches of various sizes I have cried out for a resource that could engage congregations with what it means to enter into worship; this book is that resource.  It is not just a book to have people read; it is designed with a small group study and daily devotional as well as worship recommendations for a 50 day process of bringing about the changes that are so desperately needed in our churches today.  It is a resource that helps people engage with a God that is alive and present.  Worship is not about what we get but what we give and in return what we receive.

This book looks honestly at what worship has become and eloquently, yet simply reminds us what worship should be: “…the problem lies with practicing worship as a self-contained activity that somehow appeases God, or entertains the individual, and that has no connection with spiritual formation and just living.”  Good worship must recognize that it must engage the individual; hold their attention but the individual must come open to experience the living God who is present.

I would like to give you a sampler of some of the thought contained in The Hour That Changes Everything by sharing just a few quotes from the book:

  • “…what we do in Church is not an end in itself, but is intended to lead us into a life of honouring God in all we do.”
  • “…what we call worship is not simply about singing a few songs and listening to a sermon.  Rather, worship must impact every moment, every circumstance, and every interaction in our lives.”
  • “…we devalue the act of worship when we fail to connect it with spiritual formation, with the Church’s mission, or with the real work of Christ in people.”
  • “…worship is an act that leads us into a transforming encounter with God from which mission, compassion, and justice flow.  The way we worship defines the way we live.”

If pastors and worship leaders really care about what God has called them to do and take seriously their responsibility for the spiritual development of the people they serve they will savor the message this book has to offer.  If the people of God are truly seeking an encounter with God they will engage the challenge this book delivers.  If every individual who declares that they are a Christian will spend 50 days with this book Churches will once again be filled and the world will be changed because of it.

This book is worth the time it takes to read and more importantly worth the change it will bring about in the lives of those who willingly spend time in it’s pages.

Miracles: Healing for a Broken World by Father Stefan Starzinski

This book was released in April, Holy Thursday to be more exact. There is much excitement surrounding its publication. In just one week after it was placed on Amazon.com for pre-order it became the number 1 book on Amazon’s Catholic bestseller list.  At first it caught us by great surprise but in further reflection I should not have been surprised.

I first came across Father Stefan on Twitter and after a 2 ½ hour Direct Message conversation with him I decided to attend his healing Mass.  I will admit I was skeptical but as I have come to know him and the people that have been touched by his ministry I am not surprised by the books success. I have heard first hand some of the stories that are included in his book. These are stories that will touch your soul and give you hope and faith that miracles are still possible today.

Father Stefan doesn’t take the idea of healing lightly and will be one of the first to tell you that healing does occur for all people but not always in the way we want it but in the way that God deems best for each circumstance.  I can honestly say that when Father Stefan tells you it will be alright you can take him at his word.  My husband was scheduled to undergo a procedure to verify a finding from an MRI that had caused great concern for us.  I asked Father Stefan to pray for my husband.  A few hours later I received a message from him that everything would be fine.  The results of the test came back that there was no related health issues that required any medical action; though there was proof that something had existed in the area that had created the concern.

If you haven’t already gone to Amazon.com and ordered a few copies of Miracles: Healing for a Broken World I’d suggest you do it soon. It has already exhausted it’s first printing.