Water Walker Series @TedDekker

water walkerI’m always on the lookout for free books. Since I obtained a Kindle reader, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many free ebooks are available. I’m on a few email lists and follow links on Twitter to places that offer free and discounted books.

A couple of weeks ago I saw that NoiseTrade was offering the second book in Ted Dekker’s Water Walker for free. It intrigued me so I downloaded both the first and the second.

Then I was hooked.

Dekker wrote the series in four parts to be read as an episodic story. While you can download the entire book at once, he also makes it available in several parts, much like a weekly TV series. Once I read parts 1 & 2, I had to go to Amazon to get the last two parts of the series.

Water Walker is about a young girl named Alice who is an orphan and has no memory of her past beyond six months ago. She is kidnapped by a man who claims to be her father and says he is finally taking her home. The story shifts perspectives from time to time. One chapter will be written in Alice’s voice as she shares what she is thinking and feeling as she tries to sort out what is true. Another chapter will come from the perspective of another character in the book.

While the book is not overtly Christian, there are many Biblical principles that present themselves as the story goes. The couple that kidnaps Alice lives a very religious life, but it is a religion based on fear. Alice has to learn the power of forgiveness as the four parts unfold.

Water Walker was an excellent read. Dekker’s goal was to present an addictive, high-octane story that would bring the reader back for each episode. Not only did I finish this series, I picked up the first book in the Eyes Wide Open series, which is set up the same way as Water Walker. It’s proving to be just as engaging.

Let Hope In – review

Let Hope InSometimes you read a book because you’ve read the author’s previous writings and you like what he/she offers. I picked up Let Hope In based on the recommendation of someone I know and trust. He spoke highly of the author, Pete Wilson, so I thought I would give his book a read. It was a good recommendation.

In Let Hope In Pete Wilson offers four choices people can make that have the potential to be life changing. In the opening chapter, Wilson makes this statement that provides the foundation for the rest of his book: “I’m learning that everyone needs healing. Everyone has been hurt. Some of us have been hurt worse than others, but no one escapes this life without some emotional bruising along the way. And if we haven’t dealt with the hurt from past, it will continue to impact everything we touch.”

Whatever our past looks like, everyone has some type of pain or regret and Wilson offers some insight and encouragement in how to let God bring hope in and help us move past our past. Wilson uses both scripture and stories from people he has encountered to provide practical ways to allow hope into our past experiences and regrets.

One chapter that stood out to me addressed the topic of shame. I appreciated how Wilson addressed the issue of shame. He expressed it this way: Shame is not like guilt. Guilt says, ‘I did something wrong,’ while shame says ‘I am wrong.’…Shame says you are not normal” I thought how he both defined and then addressed the issue was helpful and gave a new perspective on the shame our past can bring.

Let Hope In is a practical resource for anyone who struggles with a difficult past or who desires to walk alongside others working through past issues. I found myself highlighting phrases along the way that were helpful. All of us have a past. How we deal with that past makes the difference.

(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com&gt; book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)

From This Day Until. . .

I was listening to an interview yesterday with a guy who was a part of the True Love Waits movement.  He said his biggest contribution to the movement was the phrase “from this day until. . .”  Here’s the entire pledge:

Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate, and my future children to a lifetime of purity including sexual abstinence from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship.

He believes this was an important phrase because it deals with the present and the future, not the past.  He commented that all we can do is move from where we are into the future and we can’t go back and change anything in our past.

I thought his comments rang true not only in the area of the True Love Waits pledge, but in all area of our lives. We probably all know people (or maybe we are that person) who won’t/can’t move toward a better future because of mistakes in the past.  They could be things we have done or things done to us.  We can’t change the past; we can’t undo what has been done.  But we can commit from this day until…

That comment wasn’t the main crux of the interview, but really jumped out at me.  God is in the business of taking care of our past.  I just saw a similar idea on Facebook today:  “Don’t remember what God has forgotten.” What we need to do is commit from this day until . . .

Good Enough to Get into Heaven?

If you go to church most Sundays out of the year, does that get you in?  If you give money each month to the church, is that enough?  If you don’t cuss (too much) or are nice to people who aren’t nice to you, does that do it?  How good is good enough?

That’s the question that Andy Stanley wrestles to the ground in this book.  It seems the majority of people accept the premise that God will let good people into heaven, but how do you know if you are good or even good enough?

In one chapter Stanley shares an encounter he had with the lady who owned the dry cleaner near his apartment.  He relates one conversation they had that got around to what happens to people after they die.  The woman said she knew she would go to heaven.  Stanley asked how she knew.  She said because she kept the Ten Commandments. He asked if she knew the commandments.  She didn’t  He asked if she knew where to find them  She didn’t.  But she was certain she had kept them and so was good to go.

The problem that Stanley points out is that while it seems a lot of people accept the “good people go” theory, there is no way to determine what good enough is.  In fact, scripture doesn’t even support this notion.

After spending considerable time debunking this myth, Stanley made this point: good people don’t get into heaven; forgiven people get into heaven.  The reason Jesus came was to extend grace and forgiveness because left to ourselves, we can’t be good enough.  Rather than putting our eternity into our efforts to be good, we place our trust in the One who can forgive.

How Good is Good Enough? is a good book for those who wish to communicate clearly to others the reason for Jesus’ death on the cross.  It is also a good resource for those searching for the truth of how they can be certain of where they will spend eternity.  Stanley is an excellent communicator and demonstrates that in this book.

Calico Joe – so good!

There are some books that once you start reading you don’t want to put down – Calico Joe is one of those books.  My wife got it for me for my birthday last weekend.  I started reading it Tuesday night around 7:30 pm, read most of it before going to bed and finished it the next morning.  Just a great story.

I don’t want to reveal any plot elements for those who have yet to read it, but it is a book based on baseball, but is about so much more than baseball.  You read about the dreams of a young boy who had a father who pitched in the major leagues and how those dreams were suddenly changed by one eventful day at a major league game.  You discover how this young boy, his father and Calico Joe’s life all become intertwined both on and off the baseball diamond.

If you are a fan of John Grisham, or baseball or just of a good book, get Calico Joe.

The Fourth Fisherman – a review

The story of The Fourth Fisherman weaves together the story Joe Kissack, a man in the US, with three fisherman from Mexico who are lost at sea for months and survive.

Both stories standing alone would make for compelling reading.  Joe tells his story of success in business, but struggles in his personal life, including his marriage and relationship with God. The account of the fishermen, how they were adrift at sea and managed to survive for such a long time draws you in and you causes you to turn the page to see what happens next.

The combining of these two stories makes for unique reading, especially when you discover the obstacles that Joe had to overcome to meet the fishermen face to face.

As Joe says in the book, it is not just about two stories; it is one story – God’s story.   It is God’s story of forgiveness, rescue and God’s involvement in the lives of His people.

The Fourth Fisherman will not only move readers with the facts of the story, but also challenge readers with the faith displayed by the characters in the book.  Knowing that these were real events that happened to real people will challenge the reader to examine how he/she would respond in a similar situation.

This book is a good read and worth your time.

(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review)