Review of The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Chruch Fathers for a New Life Today by John Michael Talbot


Genre: Christian Living/Catholic

Not Recommended.

61pWSbMbvHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I am slightly biased against this book in that I am not Catholic, and do not always love the church fathers (due to the anti-Semitism and theologies of some of them). But I was excited to read this none-the-less since I actually do love church history (even in some of its ugliness), and was hoping to develop a stronger knowledge of the church fathers, and greater appreciation for the Catholic portion of the Body of Messiah and their traditions.

The Ancient Path was not as I expected as it is more of a personal memoir that weaves in the theologies and teachings of the church fathers and contemporary mentors of the author, rather than disclosing pure history. I did learn some things, although I would not recommend this as a resource to gain knowledge of the church fathers or history. The sub-title is misleading on this point. It is actually not about the church fathers or church history at all, but rather a poetic and emotional journey to connect to God through the Catholic experience (based on a loose foundation of the Catholic fathers).

It is beautifully written, yet it was hard for me to connect with the writing–probably due to my very different spiritual perspective, and also in that it was so unlike my expectations that I had trouble knowing where the story was going or what to get out of it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Blogging for Books from Image Books.


Teach Me to Worship in the Dark


My senior year of high school I unexpectedly found myself taking Choir in order to meet my fine art credit. I’m not the sing-in-public type–plus was more “jock” than “musical”–so it was an interesting and empowering experience.

In preparation for an upcoming concert our teacher guided us into the auditorium, switched off the lights, and had us practice singing a cappella in a circle in the dark.

In the dark there were no distractions. In the dark our ears became more sensitive to the sounds, and we were more likely to stay on tune within our various parts. It was really beautiful–one of my favorite moments, even though I have no memory of the song itself.

I have had a shift in my spirit of embracing my challenges. And somehow, I have had more physical energy, more joy, and more peace, even though I am still chronically ill and struggling through the symptoms of my conditions.

It’s tempting, when the lights go out in our lives–when life is difficult–to stop worshipping God. Maybe we mean to worship Him, but we are so busy and distracted in trying to find the light–the way out–that it doesn’t happen. But in the darkness when our emotions and senses are heightened there is an opportunity to hear God more than ever. We can embrace the longings within our own souls, and surrender them passionately. Longing without hope becomes desperation, but longing with God leads to deep intimacy.

“May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.” (Rom. 15:13 AMP)




Review of Wilderness Rising by A.L. Shields


Genre: Action/Suspense

Series: The Church Builder, Book Two


_225_350_Book.1564.coverWilderness Rising is the sequel to The Church Builderand it is important to read these books in order as there are many characters who build on each other that it would be difficult to keep track of everyone, even though the mysteries are otherwise separate and could stand alone.

In this one, the quick-witted and resourceful heroine, Bethany Barclay, is on the run in Europe, searching for an ancient religious relic that may or may not exist, and also to the answers of a mystery left behind by her deceased friend Annabelle, who was previously murdered due to her risky involvement and knowledge with these dangerous people and circumstances. The stakes are high as Bethany must rescue her kidnapped friend, Janice, as well as keep herself alive. Meanwhile, it is hard to sort out the ‘good’ guys from the ‘bad’ guys as everyone seems to have an agenda, secrets, and hidden motivations.

These are fun books: fast paced, suspenseful, realistic, mysterious, and action-packed, with intriguing characters. Bethany is a strong and very lovable female protagonist, and I enjoyed the character of her brilliant and quirky hacker friend, Janice, even more. There are hints of a budding romance between two of the characters that could have been developed more for a stronger emotional side to the narrative; but the action, suspense, and deeper meanings embedded into the conflict are right on point, making this a very enjoyable read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan.


Review of Bible Dominoes


Genre: Children’s Games


unnamed (1)Bible Dominoes is similar to “regular” dominoes except that it uses thick cardboard cards, which have colors, patterns, numbers, and Bible story characters/animals drawn on each card half. There is consistency between the images. For instance, purple with a circle pattern could be zero, 0, or a blank; orange with a tear drop pattern is one, 1, or a single Bible story image; violet/blue with a wave pattern is two, 2, or two Bible images, and so forth. One at a time the players place down a new domino to match the ends of the images together.

There is also a little booklet that came with the game of quick summaries of some of the Bible stories. Our family was not too excited by this. The kids were already familiar with the stories, and just wanted to play the game. But the pictures on the cards do match the pamphlet, so it is helpful to read it to tell apart the different renditions of the characters. This also creates the connection between pictorial dominoes and Bible-specific dominoes. That is, how much the game reflects the Bible is in the parenting/teaching style of involvement. There could be more depth to this, but I like the open-endedness of being able to share the Bible stories in my own way with this as a prop.

FullSizeRender (2)My kids do like playing with the dominoes. My five year old (who was four when we received the game a few months ago) said, “Mom, I think this game is a little easy for me.” But he asks to play it nevertheless, and has a good time helping his younger brother, as well as asking many questions about the various characters and pictures.

My two and a half year old enjoys playing this even more. He is at the perfect age to find the game both fun and challenging. He is great at matching by color, but sometimes confused with recognizing the matching numbers as well, which provides a great learning opportunity. The cards are also big enough and sturdy enough not to be easily bent or broken by toddlers.

I received a complimentary copy of this game from Kregel Publications.