Wednesday, July 5, 2017

God Gifted

Title: Out of the Depths
Author: Kenneth E. Kovacs
Pages: 163
Year: 2016
Publisher: Parson’s Porch Books


Kenneth E. Kovacs, in Out of the Depths, a collection of sermons and essays, interweaves theology and depth psychology with skill and grace. His writing style is far from pretentious - or so erudite that the average reader would yawn with boredom. He engages not only the head but the heart.

His personal anecdotes are endearing and likely to resonate with those who’ve ever struggled to discover their own gifts and calls. In his chapter, “God Gifted” (pages 62-66) Kenneth remembers that as a boy he disliked the term “gifted and talented.” His friends were chosen for the program at school, which made him feel like an outsider looking in.

Not being ‘chosen’ impacted his self-worth (and most likely influenced his vocation as Calvinist minister) and caused him to view himself as inferior, inadequate, and unworthy to be included in the special treatment and the enrichment classes. He thought what he had to offer had little or no value.

Thus, the seeds of envy were planted within him, which caused him to push himself all the harder. “I’ll show them!” He desperately wanted to be counted worthy in his teachers’ eyes, but in slaving away to appease the system’s demands, he hid his innate gifts and God-given talents, and didn’t rediscover them again until years later as an adult.

Today Kenneth is using his writing gift and speaking talent to bless countless souls. He pastors a Presbyterian Church in Maryland, has served congregations in Scotland and led pilgrimages there and in Italy, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, and France.

#OutOfTheDepthsSpeakeasy


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Past is Never Dead


Title: The Coffins
Author: Deborah Dunn
Year: 2017
Pages: 241


Deborah Dunn, in her new novel, The Coffins, takes the reader back and forth in time, from 1587 when Eleanor anticipates becoming Queen of the New Eden and mother of Virginia, to 2015, where her protagonist, Andrea Warren, returns to North Carolina on a mission to solve the mystery of her father’s alleged suicide - his death having occurred while he was searching for the coffins of Beechland.

In her quest for truth, Andrea begins seeing clear visions of scenes from the 1500s: nature as untouched and pure as it was back in the day… she sees herself in deerskin clothes and shell necklace, hair woven and secured by bones and combs of fish skeleton as she paddles a canoe downstream - or is this Virginia Dare she is seeing? It’s nothing strange for Andrea to find herself in two simultaneous worlds:  both in the New World and in the modern age of smart phones and Siri.

Throughout the story, whole scenes materialize before her eyes, as if she’s watching a movie. In these visions she sees murders: While peering into the water at Old Ferry Landing she feels her father’s presence, hears a single shot, smells gun smoke, and hears the thud of a body falling to the ground… She witnesses Willie tossed into Columbia Creek “like yesterday’s fish guts”… she sees a nursing home where a needle is sliding into Aunt Polly’s veins… Dereck holding an assault rifle, starving refugees, innocents crying in agony and disbelief…

Deborah Dunn’s fictional dream takes the reader on a tour through North Carolina’s coastal districts adorned with cypress trees and Spanish moss, awash with choppy waves and cawing seagulls, warm sunshine, dark clouds, deep woods, and into a world where past and present intersect. In The Coffins we see at play the truth of William Faulkner’s words: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born.”

For more info on the author or to order visit her website:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Manifesto for Creative Souls

Title: Blessed Are The Weird
Author: Jacob Nordby
Pages: 183
Year: 2016
Publisher:  Manifesto Publishing



Blessed are the Weird is Jacob Nordby’s manifesto for creative souls, for those who’ve always known they were different. The rare birds.  The eccentrics.

Those who march to the beat of their own heart. Those who aren’t apt to play the reindeer games - and might be sent to the Island of Misfits were they toys.

But they now have a place where they can stand out and fit in at the same time.  

You might belong in Jacob’s ”Blessed Weird Tribe” if you fall into any of the following categories:


The book is an expansion of Jacob’s poem that became a viral phenomenon. It’s a call to live a more soulful existence, follow your unique call, and be a part of the new renaissance.

He offers a bold new definition of success in the modern era:

 “The only success now is living and creating a work-of-art life: unique, rich with meaning, naked of anything we don’t care about, and ruthless about carving out something absolutely real from a world that has gorged itself on fakeness and become critically ill from it. The only failure now is pulling back from that quest because of fear.” 

Jacob Nordby is a gifted writer who knows how to engage his readers. He is author of Divine Arsonist – A Tale of Awakening, and Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives.  His work has been featured in compilation books with Bernie Siegal, James Van Praagh, Lisa McCourt, Jack Canfield, and others.  He is founder and teacher of Creative UnBootcamp – A Course for Writers… and those who want to be.

For more information on the author, or to purchase the book, visit here.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.


#BATWSpeakEasy 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Remnant



Title: The Remnant
Author: Monte Wolverton
Pages: 272
Year: 2016
Publisher: Plain Truth Ministries Worldwide


The apocalypse, or the Final War of 2062, has come and gone, leaving in its wake mass devastation and the death of ninety percent of the world’s population.  Consequently, the World Federation seizes total control and bans all religion, Bibles, and sacred literature. Those who won’t renounce their religion are consigned to labor camps. 

In the year 2131, Grant, his small family, and a handful of others, escape from their work camp through an underground tunnel and venture out into the “Wilderness” in search of a community of likeminded believers. On their pilgrimage they meet their share of wackos and founders of bizarre cults from whom the team has the good sense to flee. 

The Remnant is a page-turner, reminiscent of The Road, The book of Eli and The Walking Dead – only with raptors instead of zombies.  If you enjoy science fiction set in a dystopian society - with scattered doses of comic relief - conversations on philosophical theory, religion and spiritually, be sure to check this one out. The only drawback that I could find is that the author could have used a good editor.  

Monte Wolverine is an author, minister, and syndicated cartoonist. 


For more information visit here:  

Or go to Amazon:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

#SpeakEasytheRemnant

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Atonement of God: A Review


Growing up, I always wondered if there might be more to God the Father than we were taught in church. Was he the ogre in the sky they often painted him to be, the one that kept tabs on your sins and delighted in punishment?

It was natural to wonder why his Son Jesus turned out so opposite. Christ didn’t seem that vengeful. He was the turn-the-other-cheek, forgive-your-enemies, bless-those-that-curse-you type of guy. 

Capricious may be the best word to describe how I perceived his Father: the God who’d fly off the handle and wipe out cities in a single breath. The One who opened up the earth and swallowed people whole. Turned Lot’s wife into a block of salt for looking back…

Flooded the world in one fell swoop… Had a bloodthirsty appetite and demanded sacrifices… Hated Esau and loved Jacob - even though Jacob was a con artist who lied to his father and cheated his brother… Had mercy on some and zapped others… Hid his face because no one could see him and live…

The Quest for Truth

Why did God demand blood sacrifices? It just seemed so... so pagan, like something those other gods would demand to appease their wrath. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd holding the lamb, was supposed to be God revealed in the flesh, so why was he so unlike his Father?

After numerous readings of the sacred text in several translations, and after seeking answers here and there from so-called experts, I was none the wiser. Until a couple of weeks ago when I received a book in the mail that made sense of it all.  

Four Atonement Theories

The book was titled, The Atonement of God: Building Your Theology on a Crucivision of God. The author, J.D. Myers, grabbed my attention from the get-go with his exegesis of the four most common views of the atonement: 

  The Penal Substitution (the most widely held theory in modern Western Christianity – the one I was taught since childhood – although it hasn’t been the predominant view throughout church history...

  The Moral Influence (also called the Exemplary Love theory)…

  The Ransom theory (based on the idea that sin creates a debt which must be paid)…

  The Christus Victor theory (the non-violent view), which the author clearly espouses.


Why God Hates Sin

This non-violent theology seems the antithesis of Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, where the preacher’s imagery of God’s wrath burning hot was meant to instill fear and angst in the hearts of people. Edwards was the model preacher for our denomination when I was growing up, so I’ve heard a thousand such sermons – though delivered with less literary prowess than Edwards’ classic.  

Myers, on the other hand, depicts God more as a loving parent than a wrathful deity with the might (and resolve) to cast the sinner into the fiery pit. As a mom, what resonated most with me was the analogy he used of a mother warning her child not to touch the hot stove… 

And when the child defies the command and touches the stove anyway, she gets burned of course. In which case the mother would naturally feel anguish, not because the child disobeyed her command as much as because her babygirl was hurt.  Myers asserts that God feels more anguish than anger over our disobedience. The pain of sin is punishment in and of itself, according to the author.

Why did Jesus Have to Die?

This is the central theme of the book. Did Jesus die to placate the wrath of God and obtain forgiveness for us? Was it because He needed blood to pay the debt for sin? Or did Jesus bleed and die to defeat sin, death, and the devil?  Who was behind the crucifixion? God, man, or Satan?

The author knew when he wrote this book that those steeped in the Penal Substitution view would probably wrestle with his radical departure from the standard belief. Though I’m not one to swallow everything I read, I did find the book well worth my while, as it addressed the same questions that many others like me no doubt have asked. Any thinker should at least have wondered why Jesus had to die.

If I were to critique the soundness of Myers’ theology based on my own understanding of overall scripture, I’d say that he generally errs on the side of mercy – if that is possible. I honestly don’t know how lenient God is toward sin, any more than I know how angry He is over individual and national waywardness. What I do know is that the author has tackled one controversial topic.

 I commend Myers for defending the merciful and compassionate nature of God, and tend to agree that we mere mortals are too quick to project our internal anger onto Him - which the author believes to be the case during violent episodes throughout scripture. Not that he denies the inerrancy thereof, but he contends that mankind is more likely the culprit for violence and destruction than God.  
______________________

For more information on J.D. Myers and his books, visit his site.

I received this book free through the Speakeasy blogging book review network, and was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

#SpeakEasyAtonementOfGod 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Springtime People

When my friend Nancy, an award-winning poet, died a few years ago, her family found the following unpublished poem stuffed in her Holy Bible.



Let us feel you on our pulses
and in our breathing
and convince us in our very bodies
that we live and die
in the hollow of your hand.
Release now these mute longings
hidden in our hearts
to join the early morning bird song
singing green beginnings
and multicolored hopes
for you are shaking us and
shaping us into
a springtime people
with Easter in our eyes.  


~ Nancy Frost Rouse 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Do you believe you can do this?


Was the mantra throughout the Little Boy movie: a powerful story of the love between a father and son set in WW II.  A riveting film about mountain-moving faith that will warm your heart and drive the dark of doubt away.



It was a marvelous day…

From the moment I stood at the concession stand to buy my ticket, when the young man behind the counter asked, “Can I get you some refreshments…” to his gift of kindness.

Me: I can’t afford popcorn here, it’s highway robbery.

Young Man: I’ll give it to you then.  And he filled a large bag to the rim.

I leaned over and peered at his name tag. Julian.

Me: Thank you, Julian. God bless you for this. How can I repay your kindness?

Julian: You can pray for me and my family. My brother is being deployed to Iraq soon.
He didn’t go into detail, but I assume he is going to help train Iraqi forces to fight ISIS.

It was a marvelous day from the moment I entered the theater to the time I exited, filled with mountain-moving faith. Filled with wonder at the power of belief. Little Boy made me want to conquer the world with love. Julian made me want to pray for his brother and his family every day.

 I believe Julian’s brother will come home safe and sound, just as Little Boy believed his dad would return.  I believe that mustard seed faith can move mountains - and I have a number of mountains I want to move.


Sometimes BIG miracles have little beginnings.

What about you?  What mountains do you want moved?

Do you believe you can do this?  
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