Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jesus Loves You . . . This I Know – Craig Gross and Jason Harper

© 2009 Baker Books, Grand Rapids

Not long ago I got a book in for evaluation that I just had to read. It was written by a couple of unorthodox preacher-types. Craig Gross is the founding pastor of XXXchurch.com, and like the name suggests, he reaches out to people in the pornography industry. His message, “Jesus loves porn stars.” Jason Harper is the Outreach Pastor for Capital Christian Center in California. Harper has gone through some growth pains in his spiritual walk as a result of being reminded that as pastors, those of us who are, rarely face the struggles of the everyday grind encountered by most of the people in our pews.

This book tackles some of the tough issues that we face and attempts to remind readers that Jesus Loves You anyway. From the outcast to the upwardly mobile, from the baby to the porn star, from the bigot to the bi-sexual, the authors address real-life issues with true-life answers. Chapters of interest include how Jesus loves those who’ve been betrayed, those who are skeptical, those who overindulge, and those who steal. They consult scripture for the answers all the while applying the truth in real situations.

There are some rough spots in the book that will make it lose some of its credibility with certain elements of the religious society, but the book even addresses the issue of Jesus’ love for those who are overly religious. As a read the book may be helpful for someone seeking some answers as to how they can develop a relationship with God. As a resource for future study, I’d have to pass on this book. Readers might find a better resource in the pages of unChristian or Lost and Found. Even so, Jesus Loves You is an acceptable volume. I give Gross and Harper 2 reading glasses for effort.

Benjamin Potter, March 23, 2010

Dreamstone – P.A. Hendrickson

© 2009, Booksurge

If I continue to accept review copies of science fiction, I may have to re-think my position about not really being a fan. I recently finished a fine read by P.A. Hendrickson that had me turning pages.

The story tells of Joebin Vassiter, the Dream Lord unawares (until, that is, that he’s told of his status) as he leads an unlikely group of adventurers on a quest to save his world. Prothia is a little-known, less-desired planet inhabited by the descendents of war criminals who determine that for the purposes of survival they will set up a society of peace. Unknown (a lot of that going on on Prothia) to these inhabitants, there is an entire society of peace-loving Atlomians who have hidden themselves from everyone, all the while pulling strings to guide humans in the settlement across the river into doing their own “projects.”

In order to save his own society, Vassiter learns that he must also save the Atlomians, and he must do so without violence. All is not lost, though. The Atlomians have created to Dreamstone to aid him in his task; and only a Dream Lord can tap into the power of the Dreamstone to, for lack of a better phrase, make dreams come true.

The book has several positive features – it is a compelling story, with heroes facing seemingly insurmountable foes, it is written in language that paints moving pictures in the mind of the reader, and the characters themselves are believable (even the alien life forms). Even so, there are some things that might discourage the average reader—the book is lengthy, almost to a fault. Passages in the middle of the story have a tendency to drag. But don’t let that discourage you, the fast-paced reading encountered at the beginning of the story which attracts you to the story itself, returns in flying colors in the last chapters as Vassiter battles for the safety of all of Prothia.

Because the story itself is so good (even with the occasional slow spot), and it is relatively free of foul language and explicit sex scenes so often appearing gratuitously in modern fiction because “you have to include it” I heartily recommend this book and look forward to picking up another Hendrickson title to escape in. For now, I’ll just leave Dreamstone with 4.5 out of 5 reading glasses.

Benjamin Potter, March 23, 2010

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