Friday, August 31, 2012

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People – Dave Burchett

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People – Dave Burchett

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People: Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage©2002, 2011  Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs

You just can’t go wrong with a title like When BadChristians Happen to Good People. And Dave Burchett (who is NOT a theologian by profession, by the way) backs it up with the subtitle “Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage.”

I will be the first to admit that the lion’s share of books available in Christian bookstores today that are aimed at helping Christians be more like Christ have a strong bent toward finger-pointing negativity. Our preaching tends to do the same. Either Christians are pointing accusatory fingers at the non-Believers around us highlighting the sin that is dragging them straight to hell, or we are involved in abusive name-calling of one another reminding each other how short we come when measuring up to our image of what Christianity should look like. (May I raise a quick “guilty” hand admitting my own participation in this unhealthy faith? We can work on it together.)

Many of these books (and sermons) are coming straight from the studies and mouths of some of the most sought-after Christian preachers and writers today. And then Emmy Award-winning television sports director Dave Burchett throws in his two-cents’ worth. Perhaps it is his lighter tone, or the fact that he is a non-clergy-type taking an honest look at what the Christian church is and has become that is appealing, but whatever the cause, in this second edition of his book, we find a sincere call for Christians to be more, well, Christian.

Burchett uses examples from his own experience with the unforgiving air of the forgiven and encounters with others who are actually living like Jesus to weave a Christian Living book that is arguably the most helpful one in the market today. He not only points out the shortfalls that have given the church a black eye over the years, but he also drops the answer to such failings throughout the book. The answer, according to the book, is to stop trying to be a good Christian and let Christ through His grace take care of that for you.

This book has and will earn its author more headaches at the hands of the self-righteous bunch of Christians who are monitoring the halls (his allusion, not mine), but no one expected shining the light on unpopular truth to be easy (history is filled with the blood-stories of martyrs who have proven this). What makes this book worth your while if you are a Christian is it’s readability and its personable approach to becoming more like the One whose name we bear.

If you happen to find a copy of the original 2002 version of the book, go ahead and read it, but if you can get your hands on the new 2011 edition (with some newer material and a softer tone), I would suggest it as the one to read. In fact I think it deserves 5 out of 5 reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter August 31, 2012
[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.]

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Biggie and the Devil Diet – Nancy Bell

The Devil Diet© 2002 St. Martins Minotaur, New York

I first started reading Nancy Bell’s stories about Biggie when they first appeared some sixteen years ago. What appealed to me then was that the author was another Texas native telling mysteries set in Texas, and not just Texas—a fictional setting not so far from my own old stomping grounds. I liked the stories well enough to sit through the first four episodes (I missed number 5, and have just found number 6 to shuffle through).

The stories are told from the point of view of Biggie’s grandson JR Weatherford, who has finally turned thirteen by the time our present story takes place. In the midst of JR learning to deal with all these new feelings that he doesn’t understand (including a weird feeling around a pretty new girl and a newfound need to be disrespectful to Biggie), he discovers that his actual grandfather was not the man Biggie had been married to all those years, but an earlier love who became a wealthy race car driver and entrepreneur.

Just about the time JR gets to know Rex, the grandfather is shot, but not before changing his will to include the young Weatherford. Mixed in are all the lovable and nosy characters from previous Biggie stories, and we are treated to one of Willie Mae’s recipes (Willie Mae and Rosebud live in the “servants’ quarters” type house behind Biggie and JR, and Willie Mae cooks and cleans for Biggie) at the end of the story.

This story includes a ranch converted into a “fat” farm for young girls, a tornado that does significant damage to Job’s Crossing, and a dilemma brought on when JR forgets that he’s asked his long-time best friend Monica to the dance and asks Misty (the pretty newcomer) as well.

The story moves relatively quickly as with all the Biggie stories. The biggest drawback when you visit Job’s Crossing is the dialect. In attempting to give color and character to the inhabitants of our little east Texas village, Bell often overdoes it. Even so, I’d be glad to recommend this to any and all cozy mystery connoisseurs with a four reading glasses rating.

—Benjamin Potter, August 11, 2012

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