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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

"Has God Failed You?" (Michael L. Brown)

TITLE: Has God Failed You?: Finding Faith When You're Not Even Sure God Is Real
AUTHOR: Michael L. Brown
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Chosen Books, 2021, (192 pages).
Times are increasingly tough for our society. Inflation is rising while incomes are falling. People are becoming more easily irritable and impatient. As far as faith matters are concerned, many are discouraged and disillusioned about Church and various other religious establishments. The daily news reports we get are often more depressing than uplifting, validating the popular maxim, "No news is good news." Statistics on religious communities also give similar negativity. For instance, we have all heard about an aging Church and an exodus of young people. More are abandoning churches, preferring to keep their faith private and confidential. People are asking questions about the relevance of God. Author Michael Brown summarizes this sentiment with this big question: "Has God Failed You?" Almost immediately, he questions the question, that it in itself is an oxymoron because God will never let anyone down. The real complication will happen if God is non-existent in the first place! That would put us in an even worse position of non-meaning, non-significance, and non-purpose. He engages some prominent atheists and takes issue with some of their arguments through a comparison between different worldviews. Even if one does not agree with Brown, one should also be open to question the alternatives, which too have their own flaws. A key pointer is the atheist common assertion that life began randomly. If that is true, then it throws the spanner in the works of life, that life too could also be random. Without meaning and purpose, life would not be necessarily better. After addressing the question of the existence of God, Brown then deals with the book title with associated questions such as: 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

"A Contemporary Handbook for Weddings & Funerals and Other Occasions" (Aubrey Malphurs, Keith Willhite, and Dennis Hillman)

TITLE: A Contemporary Handbook for Weddings & Funerals and Other Occasions: Revised and Updated
AUTHOR: Aubrey Malphurs, Keith Willhite, and Dennis Hillman
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Ministry, 2022, (456 pages).
Pastors play a key role in any Church. They are frequently called to initiate, implement, and innovate on Church programs. Members of the Church rely on them for the smooth running of the Church. From Sunday services to weekly Church visitations, they are expected to meet the needs of the congregation members. Amid these weekly routines, there are happy events like weddings and baptisms, or sad events like illnesses and funerals. Then there are the seasons of the Church calendar such as Lent, Easter, Christmas, and others. This handbook covers a lot about these events, with a particular focus on weddings and funerals. Part One looks at a typical wedding service, providing sample service outlines, messages, and other relevant resources pertaining to the nature and meaning of marriages. 

Part Two follows the same framework as weddings above. Written with great sensitivity to the families of the bereaved, the chapters contain eulogy outlines, graveside instructions, memorial services, comforting messages, and sermons of hope. There are even outlines for pastors to provide for family members wanting to give memorial messages. Also included are resources that share some different perspectives of death and dying.

Monday, January 17, 2022

"After Disbelief" (Anthony T. Kronman)

TITLE: After Disbelief: On Disenchantment, Disappointment, Eternity, and Joy
AUTHOR: Anthony T. Kronman
PUBLISHER: New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2022, (184 pages).
There are two popular positions with regard to religious belief. One believes in God and the human need for Divine help. The other position relies on self and human autonomy. These are the two common stands between theists and atheists. Is there a middle ground? Calling himself a "born-again pagan," author-professor Anthony Kronman claims to have discovered this middle way. In this thought-provoking book that begins from a position of a disillusioned world, he guides readers through some of his presuppositions of neither religion nor atheism, to land into an area of existentialism and the ongoing pursuit of happiness. Pondering about death and eternity, he asks a probing question: "How is it possible to come closer to a goal that is always at the same impossible distance?" Finding that both religion and humanism fail to answer this question adequately, he describes his own version of god that sits somewhere between partial acceptance and partial rejection of both types of beliefs. He shows hand by declaring his method of inquiry: "by reason alone." This is via the individual's reasoning to find out the right idea of God. Immediately in the following chapter, he admits to his own flawed plans to respond to his own alarms and various unmet goals. There is a disclaimer of course, that while he tries to size up the God that he wants to find, he admits his own limitations to see a world that is larger than his own. He reflects on the wavering predictions of weather; the painfully slow advancement of justice; and a lament that Dr Martin Luther King Jr's dream of a world of justice as something "unattainable." The author essentially questions everything in life. After a massive deconstruction of conventional thinking about life, he helps us arrive at a future position in which we can "neither reach nor abandon." This gets worse as he relates present fulfillment as illusions. For instance, once we are satisfied with all scientific inquiries, when our longing to know and accomplish stuff ceases, what would happen to us? What kind of a God does Kroman eventually arrive at? A hybrid: of the best one reasons that out to be. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

"God, Technology, and the Christian Life" (Tony Reinke)

TITLE: God, Technology, and the Christian Life
AUTHOR: Tony Reinke
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2021, (320 pages).
We have a lot of technology around us. We have different types of devices. Many of us use them on a daily basis. We need them. We cannot do without them. If we are to take a moment to ask ourselves, "What is Technology?" we might pause and wonder what kind of a question is that. For many people, the use of technology has become so ubiquitous that it has become an uncritical use of such powerful tools without actually knowing its grand purpose and significance. Fair to say, not many people really know how "technology" is defined. If we go back in history, human progress can be classified under different ages. The Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Nuclear Age, the Computer Age, and now the Technology Age. The common thread through all of them is the rising capability and discovery of tools to assist and improve human lives. Hunting tools from bones and stones were invented in the Stone Age. Engraving was introduced during the Bronze Age. The wheel was invented in the Iron Age. Nuclear power and the hydrogen bomb were creations in the Nuclear Age. Then comes the familiar personal computer and cell phones in the Computer and Technology Ages respectively. Even the biblical story of David and Goliath is a powerful story of the kind of technology being used at that time. Author Tony Reinke comes from a family of inventors. Out of his research and reflection, he sees technology as a way to tell the story of the human race. Through innovative skills and creative techniques, technology moves from animate functions like pulleys, to inanimate capabilities such as driving a car. Now we have technologies with automated abilities like self-driving cars and self-learning algorithms. The philosophical question is this: Is technology leading us toward a "dystopia" like Babel or a "heavenly utopia?" Reinke refuses to be drawn to either extreme, choosing the middle path. He enlists the help of nine voices to reveal 12 common myths about technology. These voices are mostly from the Modern Age: John Calvin the Reformer; Charles Spurgeon the Preacher; Abraham Kuyper the Theologian; Herman Bavinck the Calvinist; Jacques Ellul the French Philosopher; Wendell Berry the Conservationist; Kevin Kelly the technologist; Elon Musk the trendsetter; and Yuval Noah Harari, the Jewish Professor of History. All of these voices speak into the purpose and use of technology. He deals with six key questions:

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

"Choosing us" (Gail Song Bantum and Brian Bantum)

TITLE: Choosing Us: Marriage and Mutual Flourishing in a World of Difference
AUTHOR: Gail Song Bantum and Brian Bantum
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2022, (160 pages).
Cultural Disappointments. Disobedience. Rejection. Expulsion. Disappointment. Ministry Calling. Decisions. Miscarriages. These are some of the events and turbulent stories revealed in this bold book about mixed marriages. Just that one simple proposal followed by a bold choice by two persons from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds has led to a journey less traveled. Gail is Korean while Brian is Black. If struggling with these issues of identity and cultural challenges are not enough, their children too will experience these struggles too. One choice, many consequences. With deep insight and wise hindsight, authors Gail and Brian have come together to share with readers their story of faith, hope, and love in a world that in theory believes in equality and justice, but in practice are doing the very opposite. Married for over 25 years, the couple has three adult children who live in Seattle. Both of them experience first-hand what it means to be shunned by their own friends and families. They share about their mentoring of other couples, what it means to live in an inter-racial relationship, and the journey toward acceptance in a world fraught with all kinds of differences and expectations. Even the institution of marriage has been tarnished by sin. While biblically, marriage was supposed to be a symbol of love, marriage tainted by sin has become a tool for power, sexism, discrimination, and control. In seven chapters, Gail and Brian share their story. Chapter One begins with their personal plans. Gail wanted to be a female conductor for the New York Philharmonic while Brian wants to coach soccer. Both had their plans disrupted due to the loss of a parent. For all their struggles with the different cultural differences and expectations, they married and found love that defies common understanding. Without any models to follow, they had to carve out their own version of what it means to live out their uncommon marriage. Eventually, they had to depend on each other, to learn as they journey along. Chapter Two reveals this journey of learning about individual idiosyncrasies. Different situations also mean learning about the other person more. Whether it is career changes or family gatherings, snapshots of personality profiles, or behavioural changes among friends, even one's waking up hours could be an unexpected revelation. They share a powerful tip: "Continually choosing each other means relearning the one we've committed to."

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

"Friendship in an Age of Loneliness" (Adam Smiley Poswolsky)

TITLE: Friendship in the Age of Loneliness: An Optimist's Guide to Connection
AUTHOR: Adam Smiley Poswolsky
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Running Press, 2021, (272 pages).

Survey after survey, both research and reports have pointed to a growing problem in our society. People are increasingly lonely. With the pandemic, things are not going to get any better. In fact, loneliness has accelerated because of the many lockdowns implemented by governments around the world. Many researchers have pointed out social media as a negative influence when it comes to addressing loneliness. While it is true that social media could have adverse effects on people, especially those with prolonged usage, leading to addiction, technology can still be useful to help people build friendship networks to connect with people. The key is proper usage instead of total abandonment. Author Adam Poswolsky takes this approach and goes further. He argues that the two keys for a happier life are to make new friends and to deepen existing ones. When our efforts to reach out are reciprocated, the relationship grows. In this book, he gives readers six ways to reclaim friendships in an age of loneliness:
  1. Be More Playful
  2. Be a Better Friend
  3. Invest in Friendship
  4. Stay in Touch
  5. Embrace Ritual
  6. Be a Minister for Loneliness in the community

Friday, January 7, 2022

"Reprobation and God’s Sovereignty: Recovering a Biblical Doctrine" (Peter Sammons)

TITLE: Reprobation and God's Sovereignty: Redeeming a Biblical Doctrine
AUTHOR: Peter Sammons
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2022, (296 pages).
It has often been said that the Gospel is Good News. Literally, that is true. For the gospel brings faith, hope, and love, all perfectly embodied in the Person of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, sin has affected our understanding of the gospel. Instead of seeking the whole truth, people tend to prefer the nice and pleasant ones. Instead of what is real, they prefer the falsehood that appears good on the outside but rings empty on the inside. For sin has made one preferring to hear what one craves and to see what one covets. Corrupted by sin, the mind begins to make hell out of heaven and heaven out of hell. While acknowledging the Sovereignty of God, man still tries to usurp control from time to time. As the popular saying goes, one cannot have the cake and eat it too. Like the marriage vow, the woman's choice to marry the man also means the decision to reject all other suitors. Acceptance of one automatically meant the rejection of others. Likewise, in the doctrine of election, being the chosen one (Predestination) also means that there are also those who are not (Reprobation). Author Peter Sammons aims to help us understand the doctrine of "Reprobation" which is essentially the "eternal, unconditional decree of God for the non-elect." In other words, if predestination is for the elect, then reprobation is for the non-elect (aka reprobate). This is sometimes referred to as "double predestination." When talking about God's Sovereignty, God exercises justice for all which includes reward as well as punishment. Using Romans 9 as his key passage, he states that the purpose of election is for both nations and individuals. He provides several interesting interpretations of:

Thursday, January 6, 2022

"A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship" (Lester Ruth and Lim Swee Hong)

TITLE: A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship: Understanding the Ideas That Reshaped the Protestant Church
AUTHOR: Lester Ruth and Lim Swee Hong
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021, (368 pages).

What questions would pop up when we talk about worship? For many Churchgoers, it is about the music and the songs they sing during service. Others would then talk about hymns, spiritual songs, and contemporary praise and worship. When we talk about the latter, one of the most contentious issues would be the battle between traditional vs contemporary worship. Generally speaking, this is another way of pitting old-style hymns against new-style contemporary songs. It could be a generational divide. It could also be in terms of personal tastes or theological differences. Some might even start a debate about musical instruments such as the legitimate use of electric guitars, drums, and synthesizers, etc. complete with neon lights. Which leads us to a question less often asked: What is the history of the contemporary Praise&Worship songs? Now, that's a question! In their interactions with students, believers, and regular churchgoers, two professors of music and worship have come together to share with us the questions that have inspired their theological thoughts and reflections. Readers familiar with the wide range of contemporary P&W worship songs would be delighted to read about famous organizations, songwriters, and singers like Bethel Church, Jack Hayford, John Wimber, Hillsong Church, Sandi Patty, Sandy Yu of Stream of Praise Ministries, Maranatha Singers, Integrity Music, Elevation Church, Saddleback, and many more. Some of the questions they considered include:

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

"The Good and Beautiful You" (James Bryan Smith)

TITLE: The Good and Beautiful You: Discovering the Person Jesus Created You to Be (The Good and Beautiful Series)
AUTHOR: James Bryan Smith
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2022, (240 pages).

From writing about what is good and beautiful about God, the life we could have, and the community we could cultivate, we have the fourth book in this series about the Good and the Beautiful: You. Many self-help books begin with or are aimed at readers as the first person. The key assertion in this book is about the kind of people we could become rather than mere beliefs and practices. That is not all. In order to become the person we are called to become, we need to shed away false selves. Such false images are created when we link our identity with our jobs or things we do. They are also created when we confuse the self with the soul, that we are "selves" rather than "embodied souls," something that modern psychotherapy and our cultural narratives tell us. 

How do we distinguish the differences between the self and the soul? Firstly, recognize our narrative. Smith shows us how the self has become defined in terms of self-reliance; self-dependence; and ultimately; self-idolizing. He pushes back against this type of self which is less about authentic spiritual growth and more about self-absorption, self-accumulation, and self-accomplishment. He lists out several differences between the self and the soul, focusing on the longings within our souls and how only in God can we find true fulfillment. One exercise we can do to distinguish our soul's need from self-needs is an exercise of restraint.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

"Find Your People" (Jennie Allen)

TITLE: Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World
AUTHOR: Jennie Allen
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Waterbrook Multnomah, 2022, (256 pages).

There seems to be an ache for our human bodies. We have heard about backaches, headaches, toothaches, tummy-aches, even something internally like heartaches. What about loneliness-ache? In what is considered a problem that is larger than any kind of ache, loneliness has become a major health matter around the world. As society becomes more individualistic and self-centered, we are losing connections and community living. The downsides of loneliness are all visible out there. Depression rates are rising while mental health deteriorating. We feel secure when in our own rooms and inner sanctuary, yet there is an underlying sense of discontentment exhibited via various stages of sadness. Worse, we are subconsciously accepting our lonely lives as the defacto normal way of life. Unless of course, we learn to fight the lies such as:
  • Not needing people
  • No need for friends
  • No need for community
  • No need to rely on others
  • No need to connect with others
  • That we can survive on our own
  • ...

Friday, December 31, 2021

"Calling in Context" (Susan Lynn Maros)

TITLE: Calling in Context: Social Location and Vocational Formation
AUTHOR: Susan Lynn Maros
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2022, (240 pages).

Calling is a much-talked-about topic whenever there is a life transition. The Bible says it. People use it. We live it. From looking for a life partner to trying to find a job; choosing a college to commit to making investments; the word "calling" has been used, misused, and sometimes abused. Some say calling is for those contemplating entering into a ministry, while others apply it specifically to schools, jobs, and various project assignments. The truth is, any specific calling needs to be seen in its proper contexts simply because we are all unique. Our participation in the working out of this calling is also unique. With hindsight, author and professor Susan Maros admit that a lot of instruction about calling in our world has been restricted to "well-intentioned, White, evangelical, individualistic" views. Gradually, after hearing stories from friends and colleagues from different cultural backgrounds, she grows to apply the concept of calling to a wider world. In this book, Maros shows us step by step how our understanding of calling is influenced by our social and cultural contexts. Calling our existing maps problematic, she takes us through mental maps which often become the lens with which we interpret our world. She then takes a few notches up the ladder of deconstruction to question the way we use "biblical models" in our mental maps. This alone should make many of us sit up and reconsider our own mental maps and our own definitions of what it means to think biblically about calling. Specifically, she identifies five key characteristics in most theological thinking:

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

"Thank You. I’m Sorry. Tell Me More." (Rod Wilson)

TITLE: Thank You. I’m Sorry. Tell Me More.: How to Change the World with 3 Sacred Sayings
AUTHOR: Rod Wilson
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: Tyndale House Publishers, 2022, (208 pages).

As society becomes more fractured, fragile, and frantic, relationships become colder and more hostile. Without close friendships and healthy relationships, the world is poised to go from bad to worse. Without human relationships, the best technological advances and scientific prowesses cannot lead to human flourishing. This point has been noted by author and clinical psychologist Rod Wilson who observes how the Creator of the Universe singled out the need for relationships through his declaration that "It is not good for man to be alone." In the creation week, the LORD declared everything good and the creation of human beings as "very good." All of a sudden, in Genesis 3, He uses the negative clause to say that as far as companionship is concerned, it is "not good" for Adam to be alone. Instead of mere theories and concepts, Wilson shares many stories to highlight how the three phrases are critical to repairing, restoring, and redeeming our relationships. With a shrewd eye on modern culture and a deep insight into the state of human relationships today, he warns us about the tendencies of people to become engulfed by the cultural rains of "entitlement, victimization, and individualism." He then supplies a new umbrella of hope via gratitude, remorse, and care, respectively. Through stories, he leads us through the whys and the hows of these three actions to "change the world." 

Monday, December 27, 2021

"Breaking Ground" (Anne Snyder and Susannah Black, editors)

TITLE: Breaking Ground: Charting Our Future in a Pandemic Year
AUTHOR: (Anne Snyder and Susannah Black, editors)
PUBLISHER: Walden, NY: Plough Publishing House, 2022, (400 pages).

If there is any specific life-changing event at the turn of this decade, it would nonetheless be Covid-19. Never before have there been so many deaths, fears, disruptions to the local economy, and global repercussions for the general public, businesses, friends, families, and loved ones. From multinational corporations to non-profits like charities and churches, the arms of the pandemic have spread like wildfires affecting every continent, every country, and every culture. In early 2020, a group of thoughtful individuals came together to ask the question: "What would a post-pandemic world look like?" Refusing to accept a mere "Things will never be the same again," the contributors boldly attempt to see the future through renewed thinking of the many facets of life we have often taken for granted. That is not all. Even after removing the pandemic factor, there remains a deep-seated self-deception among people that they are presumed correct until proven otherwise. That sets the stage for arrogance and pride that refuses to learn, to the detriment of our future generations. We need a way to help us humbly learn from our mistakes and to break new ground for growth and human progress. This collection of essays is written by individuals who hail as cultural critics, scholars, speakers, businesspersons, professors, psychologists, philosophers, poets, political observers, professionals, researchers, venture capitalists, and many more. Written between June 2020 to June 2021, the writers explore issues pertaining to three types of needs, the need to:

Thursday, December 23, 2021

"The Resurrection of Jesus Christ" (W. Ross Hastings)

TITLE: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Exploring Its Theological Significance and Ongoing Relevance
AUTHOR: W. Ross Hastings
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2022, (208 pages).
The Resurrection of Christ is the single most important reason for the Christian faith. Paul even says that without the Resurrection, our faith would have been in vain. Thankfully, because of the bodily resurrection of Jesus on the third day, not only do we have reason to hope for a better tomorrow in Christ, we are called to share this good news with all around us. Besides these expressions of hope and joy, what else can we learn about the theological significance of the greatest event on earth? A lot, says theologian and professor Ross Hastings. Readers can find how this truth is unpacked in this book that not only talks about but does so in an illuminating style. He addresses some questions arising out of this great salvation event:
  • What is the theological significance of the resurrection?
  • What is the historicity of the resurrection?
  • How did the resurrection transform the early disciples?
  • What has the resurrection got to do with salvation?
  • What does the resurrection mean to participate in a community of Christ?
  • What can the resurrection inform us about our calling and vocation?
  • What is the relationship between Christ's resurrection and the bodily resurrection of believers?
  • How does the resurrection declare Christ's supremacy?
  • What can we learn from this resurrection event about creation?
  • What about the second coming of Jesus?

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Movie: American Underdog (Opening Christmas Day 2021)

I watched a preview of the movie "American Underdog" and was wowed by the quality of the acting. Based on the story of Kurt Warner's rise from a rejected football player to become the MVP at the NFL, the film inspires us not to give up on our dreams. The movie begins with statistics. Each year, over a million young boys dream of going to the NFL. Out of this pool, only 10% get a fair shot to be drafted. Out of this 10%, less than 1% is eventually drafted. What was amazing is that Warner was undrafted, and yet able to join the NFL eventually. How is the movie inspiring? Let me summarize it in three ways.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

"The Path Out of Loneliness" (Dr. Mark Mayfield)

TITLE: The Path out of Loneliness: Finding and Fostering Connection to God, Ourselves, and One Another
AUTHOR: Dr. Mark Mayfield
PUBLISHER: Colorado, CO: Tyndale House Publishers, 2021, (208 pages).

Many people in the world are concerned about the pandemic. Rightly so. We should all do our part in ensuring that we get through this Covid-19 crisis together safely. Amid all the buzz and drama surrounding the variants and concerns over lockdowns, there is one danger lurking in the dark. Loneliness. The Bible has said right from the onset that it is not good for man to be alone. That can be applied to the entire human race, not just Adam. We are not created to live by ourselves or to be lonely. As social creatures, we need to be in a community of relationships. When we are lonely, we are disconnected from the rest of society. We feel unloved. With technology, things have gotten much worse. Even during opportunities where people can enjoy a sit-down meal at a restaurant have been dumbed down with individuals so absorbed in their own little phone devices that they are totally disengaged from the people near them. As some experts have said, we are indeed living in a loneliest generation. Technology is not the cause. It reveals at best or accelerates at worse the crisis we are all facing. Is this a factor in our society's deteriorating mental health? What about addiction and all the social ills around us?

Monday, December 13, 2021

"Where the Light Fell" (Philip Yancey)

TITLE: Where the Light Fell: A Memoir
AUTHOR: Philip Yancey
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Convergent Books, 2021, (299 pages).
Growing up, he never knew how his father died, let alone the painful secrets about his eventual termination. Digging through his family history from an old scrapbook, he learns about the terrible polio disease that hits close to home.  Raised in a poor neighbourhood, who would have known that he would grow up to become one of the most cherished writers in the American evangelical world. While many writers and famous persons write their memoirs first before launching their writing careers, Yancey seems to reverse the trend. Most famous for his books such as "What's So Amazing About Grace" and "The Jesus I Never Knew," after a few decades of writing about spiritual matters, he devotes his latest book to share about his own life journey from boyhood to the present. With a sharp eye for poignant details, he reflects on his past with brutal honestly with subtle hints on how he would have lived any differently. With hindsight from the tragic loss of his dear kitten, he might have second thoughts about getting a pet. With a penchant for details and a creative prowess for storytelling, Yancey is able to help readers put themselves in his shoes. One humorous way is in how he describes a mealtime with food he disliked, such as eating tomatoes. He tells about his experiences living in the South and having first-hand witness of the ugliness of the racial tensions. Moreover, his very own family doctor was a high-ranking member of the KKK! These together with personal details about his family background give readers insights like never before about one of the most celebrated authors in the evangelical world. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

"Of the Earth" (Kim Cousins)

TITLE:  Of the Earth
AUTHOR: Kim Cousins
PUBLISHER: Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2021, (224 pages).

War, Authority, Rebellion, Power, Control, Peacekeepers, End-times. People who run and those who run after others. Fall of America. Veterans fighting another war. Miracles. A New World. Animals that talk. Daring escapes. Biblical references. These and many more fill the pages of this captivating fiction that combines creative story-telling peppered with biblical truths. Right from the first page, this action-packed thriller will keep readers glued to the pages. There are incidents of heroism and sacrifice for the sake of the community. The good residents worked together and ensured adequate provisions for one another.  The enemies schemed to eradicate all resistance without mercy. The resistance remained faithful to the end. Amid the tension and the constant threats of attacks from the Peacemakers, many of the heroic characters maintained their faith in God, with the help of prayers from pastors, encouragement from believers, and good deeds that warm hearts. 
On top of the wars happening, then come the plagues that ravage the population. Every chapter contains references to biblical images showing us that this book is not merely fiction. It comes with stark reminders that the story in the book has biblical underpinnings that we all need to be aware of. Such as God's love for the world; miracles; hope for a better world to come; betrayals among family members; the mark of the beast; the casting out of demons; and several more. It is like seeing how God's Word comes alive through the events and conversations among the characters. 

This book is a thriller that could keep us at the edges of our seats. I applaud the author for her ability to weave so many characters together. It takes a clear vision of the entire storyline to develop each character without losing track of the main plot. Having the animal conversations in italics also help readers to distinguish between human and animal speak. I must admit that it takes a while to get used to this animal talk, but readers would get used to it quite quickly. The list of characters is a giveaway as to the many characters readers need to keep track of. This is one good clean Christian fiction that should make a good gift this Christmas.

Kim Cousins is a retired academic advisor from the University of Minnesota Crookston. She is the author of Rule Keepers (2020) in potatosoupjournal.com and Evolving Interactions in Higher Education Change (2011) in National Association of Student Affairs Professions. Kim lives on a farm in Tennessee with her husband, Woodie, and an amusing group of animals. Her family includes five children, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.