Review of The Aleppo Code by Terry Brennan


Genre: Christian Suspense

Series: Jerusalem Prophecies, Book 3


9780825443893In the first book, The Sacred Cipher, a team of amateur’s uncover the mystery of a scroll hidden within an ancient mezuzah, and in searching out the truth of the message in archaeological tunnels under the Temple Mount, come across a phenomenal discovery!

Then in book two, The Brotherhood Conspiracy, the team recognizes a new coded message on the mezuzah, which takes them on another unbelievable high-risk adventure.

This third book of the trilogy leaves off immediately after the second book finishes, and so the stories should not be read separately! This time the team uses clues from the Aleppo Codex to search for the most powerful weapon in history: Aaron’s staff. But they are not the only ones looking for the staff: a league of evil men have been on the hunt for this power for generations, and will do anything to steal the power of God.

This is a fun series rich with actual historical and archaeological details amid the fictitious mystery, lots of high-paced action and suspense, and a deep and genuine glimpse into the Christian faith (and its struggles) in action. Some of the plot points seemed a bit far fetched, and yet the way the characters were written, the narrative quickly felt almost plausible. There is also a relevant underlying theme of how God works things out for His purposes. I felt like each book of the trilogy was stronger than the one before, and look forward to reading what Terry Brennan comes up with next!

I received a complimentary copy of this book (as well as the first two books in the series) from Kregel Publications.


Review of The Power that Changes the World: Creating Eternal Impact in the Here and Now by Bill Johnson


Genre: Christian Living/Charismatic Interest


9780800796860I have read and enjoyed several of Bill Johnson’s books, but this may be one of my new favorites.

Inspired by the story of Solomon, Bill teaches how godly wisdom can change the atmosphere. His encouragement that the church bring heaven to earth to influence the world is similar to his other teachings; but many of his insights regarding the nature and manifestation of wisdom in our lives are fresh and revolutionary.

I particularly loved how Bill connects wisdom to beauty, excellence, and integrity. He mentions, for instance, that when Queen Sheba visited King Solomon she proclaimed how she saw God through the seemingly mundane aspects of Solomon’s household like the attire and service of his servants, the food on his table, and the appearance of his entryway. (1 Kings 10:3-9). How interesting that she would have specifically mentioned recognizing God through these things, while also having sat at the king’s feet to receive wisdom and understanding!

I similarly enjoyed Bill’s interpretation of the passages that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He explains that salts primary purpose is not to preserve but to bring flavor; thus Christians should bring flavor to the world by exuding the Lord’s wisdom and character from within. Being the light of a city of refuge within the world is likewise essential.

This book gave me a new understanding of what wisdom looks like, and the power it has to bring influence when it is properly employed. It is a relevant and life-giving encouragement to activate the wisdom of God to “minister” through action in whatever sphere or profession that God has called us.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Chosen Books.





Unexpected Goodness


I love to cook, and I happen to be vegan. Just as with any food there are awesome vegan dishes and barely edible ones.

I was talking to a new friend who learned I was vegan and said, “Oh, I had a vegan cookie once and it was awful.” I had to chuckle, because, yes, I have had bad vegan cookies too. It happens. I love to experiment in the kitchen, with a large variety of results. A couple days ago I made a flourless cake using sweet potato, coconut, and ground nuts, I was surprised how well it turned out! It was good! I could have easily missed out had I not been so bold with putting ingredients together in a new way.

When we set “good” to equal something very specific, our expectations can limit us from experiencing other good things.

When my husband and I first got together, he was convinced he didn’t like lentils because he hated the lentil soup his mom would make. Lo and behold, he loves the spicy lentil dishes I am drawn to preparing, and he shortly realized that it was not the lentils themselves he didn’t like, but the particular lentil dish.

Sometimes we have to adjust our expectations, learn to be flexible, and exercise our creativity because life always comes with unexpected twists. If I let my expectations for my life limit or define my joy, I could miss out on what God has planned for me in a season of unanticipated experiences. The feeling of missing out on a particular form of “goodness” would come due to the mistake of looking for something else–from expecting goodness, or healing, or friendships, or opportunities, to come in a particular way.

For example, I have experienced healing miracles where God has done an instant miraculous work, and others where He has given me a physical strategy (like changing my diet) in order to lead to healing. I have also been walking through a season of chronic autoimmune issues, knowing full well that He is the healer, but finally feeling the flexibility and security of finding goodness in His person rather than needing or expecting it in my immediate circumstances. It took me awhile to recognize that my expectations for healing were hindering me from fully enjoying the presence of God, which is in itself more valuable than any physical experience–even of healing. I have been finding freedom by focusing first on God’s goodness–finding joy in worshipping Him, rather than in my experiences (in myself).

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mat. 6:33).

God is good. But God is also the ultimate Creator. His ways are not always our ways. He puts things together in an unusually creative fashion. But in His wisdom He knows what He is doing. We can trust that eventually everything is working together to become something GOOD.