-100 Stars: Relentless by John Bevere

Bevere's book is about having a "relentless spirit" and never giving up and trying to live a life well lived - as determined by "the ultimate finish" of "having our Lord say to us at the end, "Well done."" Bevere is urging Christians not to "settle for a fruitless "Christian" life" but to "desperately want to finish well for His glory."

I give this book 0 stars and am throwing it in the garbage. I will not even donate it! It is heresy of the worst kind. John Bevere is part of the Word of Faith CULT. He is a preacher of "the prosperity gospel" or "name it, claim it" and claims that humans are EQUAL to or greater than Jesus Christ and that God guarantees us health, wealth, and a trial-free life IF we can conjure up enough "faith" to claim or grab our "promises/greed". If you aren't familiar with these guys, think the sleeziest worst tv evangelists, think Jimmy and Tammy Bakker, or Jim Jones - this guy and the rest of his NEW CULT are on that level. If you want to see for yourself, look them (Word of Faith) up on wikipedia or youtube Creflo Dollar or Kenneth Hagin and watch his fake "healings"! These guys are SCUM. Multi-millionaires with multiple mansions, private jets, limos, etc.

Proof that Bevere is a member of the cult and his teachings are "Word of Faith" and "prosperity gospel" teachings, see direct quotes from book below:

- "The reltentless believer"... "will forever be known by heaven as one who WARRANTED the Master's hearty "Well done.""
- "Do you realize"... "how much God needs you" and the "Father is depending on you?"
- "the key virtue is relentlessness" in "the Christian walk" per Hebrews 12:1. Bevere replaces "endurance" with "relentless" and this is the basis for this book.
- "You are destined to be great in the signt of God. This is His promise!"
- "I am ready to perform my word (Jer 1:12). When will he perform it? When someone believes!"
- We are to rule this life as kings and queens through Christ"
- "GOD IS NOT IN CONTROL" because "he put us in charge of the earth" (Gen 1:27-28). "Who is in charge of the earth? We are! If God were in control of the earth as many of us believe, then"... "God would have intervened and slapped [the forbidden fruit] from Adam's hand" to prevent The Fall.
- "The earth is the Lord's. He is the owner but He has leased it to mankind."
- "You and I, NOT GOD, are in control of how life is run on this planet."
- "Who is Christ?" "When many think of Christ, they think of only Jesus Christ." "You need to see not just the One who died on the cross, but also yourself" as "we are one in Christ" or equal to Christ because "we are... parts of His body" with "Christ's dead and His body are one." Jesus is a Christ and so are humans.
- "The Lord... has unlimited power." "Would you say the very saeme thing about yourself?" "The exact power Christ has, you have!"
- We ARE Christ!"
- Ephesians 2:6 "He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating on the right hand of God with Jesus] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus"
- "Since we are the ones who are to govern here on earth, if things go wrong"... it is "because we are relinquishing or not executing our authority."
- "Our Lord Jesus paid such an enormous price to set them free, yet they still are in bondage. Adverse weather, natural disaster, sickness, disease, demonic influence, circumstances of opposition - the list is endless. These forces control and dominate good people" "who are ignorant of who they are in Christ."

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher free of charge but I always give honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.

5 Stars: Stuck by Jennie Allen

I believe a reader's time and money is very valuable and my purpose in reviewing books is to be as critically honest as possible so that others will be able to fairly determine whether a book is worth reading or not. Last I counted, I had given 9 1-and-2-star reviews for books, while giving 9 4-and-5 star reviews. I can't stand all the 4-5 star reviews on Amazon for feel-good books. To me, a book better have some meat. Something that will add to your life and change it for the better. Knowing I am a picky reviewer, know that I fully believe in this DVD/book combo. It is one of my favorite books of the whole year - and I'm pretty tough to please.

Jennie Allen's DVD is about rediscovering the purpose in your life and not wasting your life on silly useless day-to-day tasks. This is truly about losing your life to God, so that you may find it. Jennie does an outstanding job communicating this to the reader/watcher - with real life examples. This is 100% for men and women. This is NOT a women's only book. If men don't watch/read this, they will be making a huge mistake. Although the book/DVD is easy to follow and understand, the topic is deep. It's YOUR LIFE after all! Jennie quotes St. Augustine and John Piper, so you know she's not a girl of fluff.

The only criticism I have is that the material isn't always given in a direct straight-forward manner and this leads to confusion - BUT STICK IT OUT! You won't be sorry! You need to listen CAREFULLY. Sometimes rewind twice. Because, just when you think she is teaching something not quite true, she'll come around to the truth right afterwards. Give this a chance - at first, as I started to watch, I thought "This girl is so off base" because she explains the human emotion-feely side first, then explains the TRUE Bible based truth afterwards. So sometimes you will go "oh, no, she's off base and just like those other preachers" but if you listen carefully (sometimes you have to really follow closely), you will realize she pulls the story back around and hits you with the truth! Bam! And you go "WOW..." I've never heard ANY female Christian ever speak so accurately about her beliefs before. In fact, I would rate her up there with only about a dozen serious men in terms of Biblical accuracy and their idea of how to live the Christian life.

I'm sure I'm not really doing the book/DVD justice, but let me try to summarize a bit: Jennie gets into that as humans, we mess up and sin a lot. We then are burdened with guilt and feel a big separation from God. But God is a god of grace - he has forgiven us and doesn't demand perfection in works. The Christian life isn't about performance to get our salvation. Jesus died for imperfect people. Just when I thought she was going off the wrong path, Jennie comes around and shows me she DOES understand the Bible - and she encourages us to seek a RELATIONSHIP with God. She explains that if we will allow God into our lives (and stop hiding from him because of our shame and imperfection) and fall upon God, that God will take care of us. People expect God wants something from us - perfection - but he is more concerned with relationship. Jennie helps us deal with out emotions correctly and not get caught up in keeping a distance from God. She says "Stop pretending we aren’t screwed up. Realize the need for God. We are afraid if we ask God for help, he might not be there, but he will be there. Trust God." We are that ugly lump of clay. We need to put ourselves in the potters hands and let him mold us into something beautiful.

We are all discontent and seeking for things that aren't important - clothes, shoes, status - Solomon chased women, Adam and Eve chose "the apple" or forbidden fruit. We are choosing and chasing the world. Paul tells us to be content in all circumstances. If we chase the world's things (including fabric to decorate our home), we are giving importance to something of no importance in the greater perspective of the world and our lives. "God, you alone fill me."

When we get scared and anxious, we are telling God that we don't trust him. "There is some drug in life that say to be busy is to matter." John Piper says “It is possible to waste your life.” We are spending our life on errands and our to-do-list, while God has written this beautiful story - a plan for the entire world from start to finish. And we are choosing to not be apart of it by busying ourselves with daily tasks. "We are wasting our minutes. And these minutes turn into hours. That equals the sum of our life." Errands. What if we are missing everything God wants for us because our calendar is too full.

Jennie says she thought she was living right for a while. "So I go to God “What am I doing wrong?” Maybe I didn’t believe those things about God THAT deeply. I wasn’t really trusting God. I was trying to control my life." Her life, just like ours, didn't reflect that she believed the Bible ALL THAT much - at least not enough to be living by it DOWN TO THE CORE - Give God control of your life. Trust him. "You don’t have to try to impress God anymore because God wasn’t impressed anyway. So go run the race. Run your guts out… because you are just here for a minute in this world. Display God’s glory on this planet."

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher free of charge but I always give honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.

0 Stars: Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo

If you want the Biblical Truth, this book is NOT at all biblical.

What is NOT biblically true, or at the least, questionable in this book:
- All humans have wings (as shown in the pictures in this kids book)
- Angels come in different heights, with Michael and Gabriel being "as tall as giants"
- Michael carries a physical sword
- The angels all have halos over their heads (as shows in the pictures of this book)
- The humans also all have halos over their heads (as shows in the pictures of this book)
- The angels "help God" in heaven
- Animals are in heaven
- Jesus' big white horse looks like a Rainbow Brite's horse - with rainbow hair  (as shows in the pictures of this book)
- "In heaven, no one is old. Everyone is young"
- The Holy Spirit is in heaven
- The angel Gabriel sits at the left hand of God, while Jesus sits on the right hand  (as shows in the pictures of this book and as taught in the "adult version" of this same book)

MY OPINION: THIS BOOK IS NOT TRUE. It is a fictional story made up by a Pentecostal preacher father, Todd Burpo, and written by Sarah Palin's ghost writer, Lynn Vincent. Notice that the book claims to be Lynn Vincent interviewing the father, Todd Burpo. Todd Burpo is given credit as the author. The boy himself is not interviewed. The father is telling Lynn Vincent what the father claims his son told him. But if the boy actually went to heaven, his facts would not be so incorrect. This is another case of a corrupt Pentecostal preacher trying to make a quick buck off his son - very similar to all the "child preachers" abounding in Pentecostal churches today.

Havning read the book for adults, I was appauled to see a "kids version" of the same book. They cut some of the false teachings that were in the "adult version" out of the kids book, because it is much shorter, but it is the same source of corruption and has many of the false ideas (as I listed above).

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher free of charge but I always give honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.

2 Stars: The Love & Respect Experience by Dr Emerson Eggerichs

"The Love & Respect Experience" is by author Dr Emerson Eggerichs, author of books "Love & Respect", "Love & Respect for a Lifetime", and "The Language of Love & Respect". This new book is a devotional designed for couples, but I still don't think most men will read it. It focuses on how to treat each other with kindness, even through the hard times. There are 52 devotionals but they are light and very easy to read. The chapters go by very quickly and if you have time and no distractions, you can finish the whole book in one sitting, like I did!

Nothing is very deep and you've heard it all before - but this book is like a little reminder of all those ideas you've heard before in family therapy, but now put down in one book and with Bible Verses attached to them. This is not like other devotionals, where they take a Bible Verse and build the story off it. This book seems to already have the ideas (from family therapy/pop psychology) in mind, then finds a Bible verse to semi-fit or support what the author wanted to say originally. The verses don't always really match up all that well. Most of his verses are from Proverbs because he can pick any old random verse and semi-apply it to what he wanted to say originally. By the end of the book, I still came away feeling I read a psychology marriage therapy book and not a biblical devotional.

Example of psychology over bible: Chapter 44, titled "I am NOT being defensive!" The author explains how we can become defensive when we feel attacked, then quickly become offensive. The author spends the entire chapter talking about defensiveness, then launches into an example about him and his wife, Sarah. Then, as if a side though, at the end of the entire story, he adds "Today’s scripture passage describes the situation perfectly. Sarah was offended; her fortifications were up and iron bars were locking the gate." He slapped a bible verse at the top of the chapter to semi-match his psychology idea: PROVERBS 18:19: "An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars" (NLT). Well, when I read Proverbs 18, it is about contrasting the righteous with the wicked in 24 different ways and it gives a LONG list of random topics. So the author picked just one out of the 24 and applied it to his story about "defensiveness". NASB version of the verse reads: "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a citadel." To me, the verse is really about offending and contending with others. Not at all about "being defensive". The author does this throughout the entire book - writing his story from a psychology point, then finding a verse to match it.

While reading through the book, I was dismayed to find that the author has chosen MANY MANY different obscure Bible translations to use in his book, instead of just sticking to a commonly accepted version. I began wondered if he was picking from many translations in order to use the one that changes the meaning of the Bible Verse to best match what he wanted to say. Or was he just trying to get a sample from all easier-to-read Bibles and in this way, appeal to the masses? I compared some of his easy-to-read English translations against the NASB or NIV or Geneva Bible (similar to KJV) and I would say that the translations didn't change the verse so much as the author pulled the verses out of context and often took only snippets of the verses instead of the entire thing. He uses Bible In Basic English (BBE), The Good News Bible (GNB), God's Word (GW), New Century Version (NCV), Contemporary English Version (CEV), New International Version (NIV), The Message (MSG), New King James (NKJV), and New Living Translation (NLT).

All in all, by the end of the book, I can't say it was very biblical, but if you enjoy psychology family therapy books on marriage, you will probably enjoy this book. Again, it really does appeal to women. It won't offend men as much as normal devotionals with their pinks and purples and flowery prints, but I still don't see many men reading this book. So, if you enjoy devotionals and psychology self-help or family marriage therapy, this book is for you. If you do not enjoy self-help and psychology, skip this book.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher free of charge but I always give honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.

3 Stars: Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald

Gordon MacDonald's "Going Deep" is a fictional story about a Pastor Mac (GMAC = Gordon MacDonald) and his wife, Gail, uniting with others with the goal of training up or cultivating one growable small batch of people at a time - and creating a whole church full of deep people. This is a fictional story based in Gordon's town of New England and about people seeking to revolutionize their church into a deep group of living, breathing Christians on fire for Jesus! This is a fun story about all the steps it takes to set up a Cultivating Deep People (CDP) training group and selecting about a dozen of teachable people, while others are splitting because they weren't selected to be part of the first training group.

I think most people will find that this book is very slow to develop, drags on, forever repeats the same material again and again and is very and drawn out. The first ~250 pages are about coming up with this idea of "creating deep people", then meeting back and forth with other people to get their advice and mull over the details. This created a ton of repetition and not much is accomplished. The real "cultivating real people" doesn't begin until about 2/3rds through the entire book. So those who want to get to the "best part" may just skip right there and bypass the first 250 pages.

That being said, this book was an enjoyable read - easy, light reading, with short chapters in a calendar format. Our main character, Pastor Mac, writes in his diary/calendar format and we are lead on a story that unfolds over approximately two years. The book was light enough for anyone to read and even though the goal of the church is to develop deep people, this book is more of a shallow story of their lives, rather than a how-to-become-a-deep-person book. I would recommend this book for anyone to loves Christian fiction. After reading this book, you may wish you church was being revolutionized like the church in this book! The book is definitely inspirational and thought-provoking!

Deep thinking on the reader's part is completely optional when reading this book. The book poses some questions, but you aren't forced to sit there and think about them. Some of the questions posed were: What does a deep person look like? What biblical figures might we consider especially deep? Who might we know in our lives who is deep? How do deep people live differently so that they become labeled "deep". I also like the point that pastors need to be developing the body of Christ, the church. People don't just develop on their own. Pastors need to train and cultivate people of depth and strength.

One area that may not sit well with some Christians is that Pastor Mac spends time learning how to teach others from a Jewish rabbi and the push to learn from and use the teaching style of rabbis is greatly emphasized in the book. We know Jesus was a rabbi, but the emphasis is a bit stronger in promoting Judaism as an equally valid belief system. Instead of a Christian approach, Pastor Mac uses the rabbi teachings and also the teachings of a secular business woman as his main method of teaching his church. Throughout the book (every few pages), he continuously and repeatedly praises these two methods as if they were life-savers, the very best way, and that many other people need to learn these in order to be successful.

Also, Matthew 18:15-20 is misinterpreted to mean "Jesus is only with us when two or three of us are gathered together". In other words, if you are all by yourself, Jesus won't be with you. This is a commonly mis-interpreted verse. The real passages, when read in context, are about dealing with sin inside the church: Matthew 18:15-16 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’..... 18:19-20: "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher free of charge but I always give honest reviews. I want you to be able to choose the best book based on stars because I know you have limited time and energy to read.