1 Star: The Gospel Of Yes by Mike Glenn (Forward by Scot McKnight)

I did not agree with the "prosperity gospel" being encouraged in the forward from Scot McKnight:
- Quotes 2 Corinthians 1:20 "No matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ."
- "Make a list of God's promises [from the Bible]". McKnight doesn't caution readers that many "promises" are made to specific people during a specific time and can't accurately just be plucked out of context and applied to all believers in all time.
- "All those promises are a big "yes" in Christ." Again, McKnight ignores all context but just gives a blanket assurance that God says "yes" to any verse where God has ever made a promise to anyone and we can pluck that verse out of the Bible and apply it to us.

On to the book:
- Mike Glenn tells readers about his tough year as pastor and how he went to a house by the lake and began "screaming" at God. "God had betrayed me. He kept things from me. He didn't warn me in advance."
- Glenn says he waited all night and God didn't show up to face him. He says he wanted to wrestle with God like Jacob did in the Old Testament.
- "I sat in a rocking chair"..."I made it known that I wasn't leaving that chair until something happened." "I sat on the porch all day." "Suddenly... I knew God was coming." Glenn says he got scared.
- "In the silence I heard two sentences." Glenn writes that God spoke two sentences of advice, then was gone. This book is about that advice that Glenn says he received from God: "Why don't you let the church be who I made her to be?" and "Why don't you be who I made you to be?"
- Glenn says he had come to hold some thoughts that made life more difficult for him, including, "Who had God created me to me?" "It had never occured to me that God might want me to enjoy my life!" "I might actually like the plan God had for my life."
- So Glenn went back to his church and changed things around - getting rid of everything that didn't fit his current skills or gifts: no more administrative duties, civic groups, and no more meetings because "I lack the patience."
- Glenn says this had been the most liberating experience, getting rid of everything this self professed "type A personality perfectionist" is not good at and focusing all his time in the areas where he is strongest. "I don't waste time trying to get better at things I'm not good at."

I disagree with this book in many areas and believe it creates a false Christianity. This book paints God as a god who says "yes" to ALL promises in the Bible and claims that we can apply ALL 3573 promises in the Bible to ME and YOU and all believers. Well, if God really gave us all 3,573 promises, all Christians should have the most perfect trial free, healthy, wealthy, prosperity filled lives on earth! But the Bible does not teach this. In fact, Paul was one of the poorest in terms of worldly prosperity and the apostle Paul tells us to expect and find joy in trials in Romans 5:3 and all through the book of Philippians.

I also disagree with Glenn's teaching that God wants us to rid ourselves of all difficult tasks in life and only do the things we are good at. As you saw from Glenn's own writing, he did away with meetings "because he lacked the patience". But patience is a virtue! So Glenn is encouraging readers to avoid tasks that would help us build our patience. Why would you want to settle for less patience? I don't believe Christians should only do the things we are good at but should do the things that are the BEST in terms of bringing glory to God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. So, if sitting patiently through one meeting a month helps and edifies your neighbor, then I believe we should be open to this task. I feel that Glenn is portraying a selfish type of lifestyle: do what I want to do because I'm good at it. If I'm not good at it, I'm not doing it, even if it has other value.

Glenn continues through the book wording his sentences just right to lead readers into feeling good about being selfish and focusing only on doing the things they are good at and that make them happy. If you don't read carefully, I can see many many Christians actually believing this. Glenn makes it sound so innocent and appealing.

For more experienced Christians, they will be shocked by Glenn's (who did go to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) lack of understanding of even basic Christian concepts: How living a biblical Christian life can bring joy (Glenn writes about self-sacrifice = misery); Why a Christian will desire to live righteously (Glenn writes about not sinning out of fear and scolding). Glenn gives the reason for seeking Christianity/God/Jesus is avoidance of hell and getting eternal life - again a purely selfish perspective. Yes, it's true that may be a motivating factor for many in the beginning, but as we mature, "What about knowing Jesus Christ and the beauty to be had in Christ?" Glenn needs to listen to and read John Piper's Desiring God book. Piper once wrote "Would you be fully satisfied in heaven if you had all the greatest things but Jesus Christ wasn't there?" Glenn's book seems to answer "Yes" to this question, when we as Christians know the answer is "NO!" That heaven without Christ isn't heaven at all, it's hell in the disguise of heaven. Satan doesn't only use ugly things to trick us away from Christ, but Satan seduces people with the very very best that the world has to offer. I pray that readers will discern the short comings of this book and not fall pray to slip into a worldly life: Mt 6:19-20 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and choose the very best books.

1 Star: Simple Secrets to a Happy Life by Luci Swindoll

This quick easy read from Luci Swindoll, the sister of famous Chuck Swindoll, was not what I was expecting from a Christian book at all. This book had hardly anything to do with Christianity but was like reading an advice column or receiving a list of advice from Mom. Nearly every one of the 50 points in this book have been drilled into the heads of all grown daughters from their mothers. There is nothing AT ALL new in this book. The only thing that would make this a "Christian book" is that Luci is a Christian and she drops God's name a few rare times. I don't understand, who would buy this book? Who would write this book and ask money for it as if they were offering something new for $15.99?

The advice of this book goes like: Be organized, take care of your health, draw pictures, value what you have, build a small library, have integrity, prioritize, do something with your hands, learn a new skill, cook something for yourself, forgive others, be generous and finally, read your bible everyday.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and choose the very best books.

-1 Star: FALSE TEACHER: Lisa Bevere's "Be Angry But Don't Blow It!"

Readers should know who the author is before they read the book, so they can know what to expect and be cautious when discerning the truth. Lisa Bevere is the wife of John Bevere, a prosperity gospel member of the Word Faith "denomination" or what I would call "cult". I do not use the term "cult" or "heresy" or "false teacher" lightly. I use these terms to describe someone who I believe knows full well that they are teaching falsehood and still teach it for riches. After reading John Bevere's outrageously false book "Relentless", I am certain the three terms fit the Beveres. Still, with an open mind, looking for any benefit this book might have, I read this book. I mean, even false teachers might get something right, right? I have seen Sheila Walsh write one good book after a lifetime of false teachings, but sadly, this Lisa Bevere book is filled with the same errors her and her husband have tricked people with for years. I hope after reading my review, you will understand how this book "sounds good" on the surface, but if you discern carefully, you will see the errors.

Ch 1: Lisa Bevere throws a plate at her husbands head in anger and blames him for making her mad. She writes, "Anger in and of itself is not wrong, but rage and fury escalate it into the dimention of the destructive."
=== TRUTH: Godly anger is not wrong, but selfish humanistic prideful anger is always wrong. In the greek language, Godly anger is a different word from selfish anger. In the original Greek, the Bible is very clear: only godly anger or righteous anger is ever considered good. Selfish anger is always wrong. Lisa should have clarified, because her teaching will lead readers to believe all anger is okay, as long as you don't let it turn into rage. Clearly, throwing a plate at John's head had nothing to do with "godly anger" or "righteous anger" and even Lisa admits this on page 5, when she writes, "I fell asleep under the blanket of self-justification and righteousness. Gone was my repentance."

Ch 2: Lisa Bevere quotes Ephesians 4:26 as a command to "Be angry" and she even puts it in italics, giving readers free reign to sin in anger as much as they like. She writes "God gives us permission to be angry. He knows and understands man's inborn capacity for anger." "Anger is as valid a human emotion as joy, sorrow, faith, and fear. God tells us, "Be angry", because it is okay to be upset. Even God gets angry... as a matter of fact, quite frequently." "There is a fine line between anger and sin." Bevere alludes to the idea that "age, personality, position and place" help determine sin. Her examples: The older you are or the more authority you have, the more responsible you are and the more you should know better. TRUTH: A sin is a sin, no matter who does it. Pg 9, she explains that when she was younger, that she would honk and curse people while driving, but when her "little ones were copying [her], [she] no longer enjoyed the priviledge of yelling at strangers." Wow. That's scary. Her only reason for stopping was that her children were mimicking her. It had nothing to do with repentance and acknowledging the error of her sinful ways or obedience to God or Christ-likeness or living a life to glorify God.

Pg 10, Bevere uses dictionary definitions for anger to show us that anger is okay and not sinful. She determins that "Anger by definition should be brief and transitory, not drawn out and dangerous." She even has the nerve to falsely teach, "God models the healthy type of anger for us: "For His anger lasts only a moment" (Ps 30:5). The rest of the chapter is spent showing us how "short-term anger" is good, but "long-term" anger is wrong, when it turns into "bitterness." Bevere even uses Eph 4:26 out of context to justify her claims, declaring that "letting the sun go down on anger" shows that holding anger for a long period can "progress toward the destructive ledge of being angry and sinning." Bevere's teaching that short-term angry is not sinning is completely false. All selfish anger is sin. Only righteous anger can be good.

Ch 3: Bevere tells how she used to punish her husband in anger until he had earned his way out of punishment. This chapter is spent telling readers to make sure not to carry anger past nighttime in accordance with "Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry" or you will carry that anger into the next day and the next and the next until you have a weeks worth of anger.

Ch 4: This chapter is about "the progression from anger to sin, or the progression of anger to rage to fury." Again, Bevere is teaching falsely that anger is natural, normal, healthy and not a sin. She calls "rage and fury" the sin. But she justifies "anger" as normal and good because it is "short-term". Bevere quotes Neil Clark Warren's book, "Make Anger Your Ally", "anger is described as a completely natural, perfictl legitimate. It is that internatl happening which prepares us to cope with hurtful, frustrating, and fearful exdperiences." And "anger is simple a state of physical readiness." She uses the horrific analogy of holding a gun and claims "Of course, there is nothing wrong with being ready, willing and able to respond, or shold we say to shoot. no harm has yet been done, we are just booting up for what might lie ahead." In describing rage as not yet sinning, she writes, "Aiming [the gun] doesn't necessarily come with a commitment to shoot." Then she begins to add the last part, "Rage continue to progress to fury as our temperature rises, and at this point we are committed to shoot." So only when we are COMMITTED TO PULLING the trigger we are sinning? This is completely false! Didn't Jesus say Mt 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment. Jesus does not seperate anger and rage and say these are okay and only fury is wrong. According to Bevere, fury is where you pull the trigger. That is the point where you physically act out. Jesus' entire point is that the inner man counts, not just the outward physical demonstration. Bevere caps off her false teaching, "We [just] watched as the natural response of "anger" was escalated to the dangerous final and regrettable stage of fury. This example illustrates the dividing line between constructive anger and descructive fury." FALSE. This internal anger is not constructive to say the least. In otherwords, Lisa Bevere is teaching that in chapter 1, her anger towards her husband was "constructive" all the way up until she threw the china at his head. And this would also mean that in chapter 2, where she spends a great deal of time telling how she would punish and make her husband "pay" in her mind, that all this anger was "constructive" because she "didn't pull the trigger" yet? Wow. What a false teaching.

I could not read any more of this book. But I read this review to show those open enough to read my review that the Beveres are false teachers and to warn them that these "wolves" will devour those who do not discern wisely.

2 Stars: God Loves Broken People by Sheila Walsh

Readers must know a little about the author, Sheila Walsh, before they begin this book. Walsh started out as a singer, then began co-hosting The 700 Club with Pat Robertson. The 700 Club and Pat Robertson are part of the Word Faith cult, also known as teachers of the prosperity gospel, "name it, claim it", "blab it, grab it" crowd, who are only after your money. Sheila Walsh was one of them = BIG WARNING. Did she change since those days? Since, she has joined false teacher Steve Arterburn's Women of Faith group and written a prosperity gospel filled devotional (Daily Gifts of Grace). Her articles tell readers that "God promises" to give us things and essentially turn God into a genie who "owes us health, wealth, etc". Sept 2011, Walsh began a children's book series titled "Gabby, God's Little Angel" about a foolish child angel that is completely unbiblical. This book is filled with super cute appealing images but completely unbiblical ideas about angels. It turns foolish speech and general sillyness into appropriate behavior for a female child angel (not Biblical in itself). So, coming into this book, one should be extremely careful and discerning when reading ANY Sheila Walsh book.

That being said, I was shocked to not find this book dripping with prosperity gospel and false unbiblical teachings like her other material. Walsh even quotes from conservative biblical theologians like John Piper and R.C. Sproul! And apparently, their teaching on God's sovereignty has rubbed off on Walsh. In this book, she not only bashes the prosperity gospel (although she does not take any responsibility for having preached it herself), but she declares over and over again that God is sovereign. And because God is sovereign, we can trust Him through trials. This book is EXCELLENT in that it gives readers the proper biblical perspective on suffering and trials - even emphasizing joy in trials, growth, God's providence and God's overall hand over believers because of God's sovereignty. This book paints a very beautiful view of suffering and even makes half of you actually desire more suffering in your life. Yes, I was moved to pray for more trials and suffering after reading this book, because Walsh does an excellent job pointing out all the benefits in us that come through suffering and trials.

Actually, if this wasn't Sheila Walsh, I would recommend this book to others with 4 stars. But seeing that I am not a trained theologian and I don't trust Walsh and don't wish to promote her, I must still greatly caution readers and will give this book 2 stars. Of course, I would recommend Elizabeth Elliott anyday, but after reading this ONE book, I don't think you'll die or adopt any false views after reading this book. So I would say this ONE book might just be edifying and beneficial. Most of the complaints from other reviewers on Amazon are accurate in that the book does drag on and go from story to story (some kind of useless), but it seems Walsh is cleaning up her act a bit - using the ESV bible now mostly (where she used to always use the Message Bible). I would still caution readers but I would say, if you like her writings, this one book is not just pretty good, IT IS GOOD. I hope readers will get past the ramblings and see all the positives because this book really is better than many other "Why is there suffering? Why trials?" books written even by male theologians.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and choose the very best books.

1 Stars: Our Favorite Sins by Todd D. Hunter

Firstly, readers should know the author Todd D. Hunter is Anglican and this book is clearly written with Anglicans in mind. Hunter quotes from famous Anglican N.T. Wright, Anglican Henry Nouwen, Anglican Dallas Willard, the Book of Common Prayer, the Saturday Compline, Celtic Daily Prayer book, and more. So, if you're not Anglican, Church of England or Episcopalian and your theology does not agree with Anglican theology, you may not agree with some parts of this book. I was also very concerned with this author's use of the "New Age-ish" paraphrased Message Bible and found I could not read these paraphrased bible quotes. They are nothing at all like my NIV Bible. They don't even sound like Bible verses anymore! Also, readers should know that Hunter uses the Barna Group and David Kinnaman's stats throughout the book.

Now, when I read a book about sin, I expect the big, bad, ugly, deadly sins to be addressed with a good solution for overcoming them. Hunter dedicated a few very brief chapters that glossed over their subjects to barely mention or gloss over a few "sinful" topics that for the most part, aren't even in the Bible!: Anxiety, Procrastination (that's not even sin!), Eating, Lazy and Media (not really a sin either! Hunter attacks "Computer media" in this chapter but skips over ALL other forms of media, including the TV! This is like making a chapter called "Football" as a sin! It is not a sin! The obessession would be the sin, not the computer or internet or football.). So, I want to ask the author, where are the 7 deadly sins? Where are the sins in the 10 commandments? Where are sexual sins? In a book titled "Our FAVORITE sins", I am certain sex is one of the very favorites! So is greed. Anger? Unforgiveness? Pride? These are all WAY bigger, worse and more "favorite" to most humans than lazy and eating. Not everyone has a problem with eating! So many people are hard working so this sin hardly applies to humans across the board, but we all have issues with anger, unforgiveness and pride. This book misses the point entirely. And when the author does mention the 5 "sins" he chose, Hunter barely even mentions them. Instead, he tells us a story about "Lazy Larry" or "Media Mary". Please! How childish.

Okay, so Chapters 1-9 were useless, shallow and a waste of time. So how about the answer/solution chapters 10 and 11? Hunter is very into dropping the word "ancient" in referring to a path created 2,000 years ago and known to monks, so throughout the book and he encourages we use "ancient" knowledge/wisdom to solve our problem with sin. So 10 and 11 are titled "Ancient and Frutiful 1 and 2". Hunter encourages us to follow the advice of a monk known as Mark the Ascetic, "in order to position yourself above the aformentioned destrictive passions" make some "ascetic efforts or spiritual training exercises to reshape your interior evils (heart condition)." Hunter tells us to follow Mark's advice, "Struggle to put to death whatever is earthly (Col 3:5)", because Mark knew, "as do all monks "in the Jesus tradition" know, that our evil desires lead us to the burning of our souls in fire (Pg 142). So the big answer to overcoming sin, the correct path according to Hunter and Mark: solitude, followed by silence.

Pg 143, Huner explains the solitude is meant to be physical and "within the rhythms and routines of one's actual life." Hunter tells readers to "connect with Jesus through solitude" (Pg 143). Hunter tells readers to move into "silence", where we will become more alter and aware of our hearts. Hunter quotes Anglican Nouwen, "Silence is promarily a quality of the heart that leads to ever growing [love]." Hmmm.... somehow I'm not buying this. Hunter continues pg 146, "Through silence, apprentices of Jesus learn to be alter to their will, to what they really want and why they want it." Hmmm... can't say I agree with Hunter. I thought we were supposed to seek God's will, not our own selfish wills? Our human purpose is to bring glory to God, not seek our own.

The rest of the book is spent discussing liturgical prayers, sacraments and no real answers. Hunter was right that the solution to overcoming sin is that we need a change in our INNER selves, not only in our outer actions. However, his solution of silence and solitude (escapism/avoidance), liturgy, sacraments and ritual (religion) will not give us the inner change we desire.

HOW TO OVERCOME SIN: As a believer in Reformed theology, God has granted me the gift of overcoming all my ongoing sins through TRUE salvation and hearing the TRUE gospel according to Jesus (which is VERY different from what you've probably heard preached). Did you know the modern day "Christian" gospel is nearly the OPPOSITE of what Jesus preached in the Bible? If you didn't, read Walter Chandry's Today's Gospel or John MacArthur's The Gospel According to Jesus. Anyway, through true salvation, I received the real Holy Spirit and an abhorrance of sin! Before that, I had heard the world's fake easy-believism gospel and always excused sin as "not so bad." Now that I have the Holy Spirit inside me, I realized how gross and horrible sin was! It's like this: Imagine your mother, child, loved one going up on a cross for YOUR personal sins - even for one sin. One single moment of anger. One single lie. Now you will see the lie isn't so small anymore, is it? How horrified you would be as you watched them suffer and die for hours. Believe me, when we get a view of how disgusting and distasteful our sins are, we won't be eager to return to them. When we realize how much one sin destroys and how horrible it is in God's eyes, we won't take our sin so lightly anymore. We overcome our sins by recognizing that God is amazing, perfect and above all, HOLY. When we recognize how sick our sins are and how very very VERY MUCH that we totally deserve hell and are convinced that we deserve hell and realize that there isn't even ONE SINGLE good thing inside us that would cause us to "deserve" or "earn" heaven, we realize that we need to fall at the feel to Jesus Christ and beg Him to draw us and come and make a home inside us with the Holy Spirit. It is after we are actually saved and receive the Holy Spirit, that we no longer want to sin. Now I'm not saying in a moment here or there, we don't have a thought or an angry feeling or unforgiveness but we abhore these sins so much that immediately, we turn to God and plead for Him to take those feelings away. We truly REPENT and TURN FROM OUR SINS. We no longer even wish to hold onto them anymore. That is true salvation from sins. Salvation from sins is not a halfway thing. If you have a near heart, you should not longer love sin. If you feel that you aren't at this point yet, pray and ask God to get you there. For years, my prayers were, "God, I know I'm not there yet, but do WHATEVER it takes to get me there." And I always meant whatever. A broken leg, a missing arm, a car accident, lost job, homeless - WHATEVER. Even when I didn't really feel like it, I prayed and asked for Him to find a way to get me there because I knew that God and Jesus Christ are the TRUTH. Don't forget, knowledge and believe won't save you. Salvation comes from OBEDIENCE and turning your whole life over to Christ and making HIM the LORD over your life. It is DYING TO SELF AND LIVING FOR CHRIST. Anything less is false assurance.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and choose the very best books.