Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Convicted: forgiveness like you've never seen before!

We all know what it’s like to hurt or be hurt, and many of us have experienced forgiveness in its many forms. In other words, we all have stories about forgiveness, but probably none of us quite to the extent of the story told in Convicted: a Crooked Cop, An Innocent Man, and an Unlikely Journey of Forgiveness and Friendship (Waterbrook , 2017).

Jesus told a story about a moneylender who held 2 outstanding debts, one much greater than the other. The characters in the story include a woman who had sinned greatly, recognized the extent of her sin, and had much for which to be forgiven. She was grateful.  At the same time another sinner refused to see that he also had sinned greatly, he felt that he was entitled to having his debt cancelled.  The same forgiveness was not forthcoming.  As Jesus tells the story, before telling the woman that her sins are forgiven, he makes an equally telling comment to the second sinner:  “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." (Luke 7: 47, NIV)
                Jesus spoke in a parable to illustrate a truth, and the book Convicted is a retelling of a true story. The authors are writing of their experience. Andrew a crooked cop, who had somehow gotten impressed with himself, and felt that he was above reproach. His entitlement mentality led him to places that he should never have gone. And Jameel, someone who, and excuse the cliché, happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Really. And that misfortune took him to a place where he never planned on going.
                Jameel’s hatred helps him for a time to survive prison, but hatred can’t sustain you forever, and by the time he meets Andrew again, things have changed.
                Andrew is finally held accountable for his crimes, and as you might expect the two men meet. What you might expect is that Jameel’s hatred would lead to a violent confrontation, but instead what we see play out is forgiveness that most of us wish we could experience, but might never have the opportunity to see. And after forgiveness, comes a friendship that crosses lines of race and strengthens the faith walk of each man.
Be looking for this book in Mid-September.

(privileged to be on the launch team, so I got an advance copy of the book) 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

in, and out of, the pit

We all have those moments, those moments when it feels like things couldn’t get much worse, and we’re left grasping at anything that seems to offer us a way out of the pit. Beth Moore in her book Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk About God's Deliverance (W Publishing Group, 20017), has a lot to say about that pit, or as may be the case, those pits.

                The story line is pretty linear—the horrors of being in the pit; how we get into the pit (we slip in, get thrown in or jump in; acknowledging that there is a way out of that pit, and the steps to getting out (cry out for help, confess to God the nature of the problem, and consent to let Him help). Then we wait for God to show up and show off. Hopefully it doesn’t take too many pit experiences to convince us that we’ve had enough, and so we can make up our mind to try to avoid the things that got us there. And once we’ve allowed God to pull us out we should change out tune, and live a different life, one that keeps us focused on God, which in turn helps us to avoid the pits in the future.
                  I admit that I had not read any of Beth Moore’s material previously, but I know a lot of people who have engaged with her Bible Studies, and have enjoyed them. So I welcomed the opportunity to look at this book.  I should have passed on the opportunity.  Beth Moore writes for women, and I guess I was aware of that, but I figured that this is Bible Study material, so it should have a somewhat universal appeal. It doesn’t.
                I found this book to be rather simplistic in nature, which may be more indicative of her intended audience (and for baby Christians this might be a good start).  In my opinion the cover set the tone for the book. Ms Moore is very nicely dressed, every hair in place, flashy jewelry and nicely applied makeup.  There is no way I was going to be convinced that this woman had ever been near a pit, much less wallowed in one.
                I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review…I was not required to write a positive review.

3/5

Thursday, August 10, 2017

We all have a prodigal-- but there's hope

Even if you don’t attend church regularly you’ve probably heard the parable of the Prodigal Son as told in the Gospel of Luke. There have been sermons preached on it, books written about it, it’s been adapted, and I imagine that without much difficulty, one could find movies or plays which at least touch on the major themes of these verses.  So why do we need still another book based on that same passage?
                The simple answer to that complex question is probably because most of the people I know, myself included, have a prodigal in their life. Maybe it’s a parent, a child, a sibling, a spouse, or a longtime friend. Maybe your prodigal is you. Those people are in our lives, and we all need help in learning to love them the best way we can. We don’t want to slam the door in their face (well maybe at times we do), and we don’t want to enable them in their addictive or inappropriate behaviors, and at the same time we want to help.  And that’s where this book may be helpful.
                Is there hope?  Jim Putman with his father Bill Putman think so, and they explain why, along with a lot of helpful tips in their recently released book Hope for the Prodigal: Bringing the Lost, Wandering, and Rebellious Home (BakerBooks, 2017).

                The book is broken into three sections I: the Ideal, II: the Ordeal, and III: the New Deal. And those section headings are enough to give you the main idea of each section. We know what we should be striving for in our relationships, but sometimes stuff, often horrible stuff, happens, but there is hope for restoration.
                Although I enjoy the Parable of the Prodigals, and the book is based on the story and the main points within, I found this book slightly difficult to follow. Although there were some helps as to who was writing [ I (Jim) or I (Bill)], it was often confusing because the stories were repeated—once in the first person, and once in the third.
I received a copy of the book from BakerBooks in exchange for a review, I was not required to write a positive review.

4/5