The Secret Of Power

The Secret of Power is a short book I received for free when I subscribed to the Sword of the Lord newspaper, but normally sells for $6.99. It is a very short book indeed — a little over 60 pages — and is a great, concise overview of the Holy Spirit, and how He differs from Christ Jesus and God the Father.

I have always been interested in knowing more about the Holy Spirit, because of all three persons of the Trinity, He seems to be the one I (along with most people) have the hardest time wrapping my head around, and is often the least discussed in sermons.

Luckily, this great, simple-to-read book covers the topic in a surprising amount of detail for its length, and starts with differences between the persons of the Trinity, moves to verification of the Holy Spirit’s existence, explanation of the spiritual nature and assistance He provides, and wraps up with a pretty thorough look at the twelve disciples and Paul, and their spiritual and personal changes after being filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

I only saw one minor typo in the book, and the author was excellent about quoting scripture in a very straightforward and easy-to-digest manner. Now, I do wish the book was another 20-30 pages long to dig deeper into the topics discussed, but what I love about this is how anyone could easily pick this up and read it in a couple sittings, on any given day or two.

If you want a nice overview of the Holy Spirit and how He can help in people’s lives, I would say either subscribe to that newspaper like I did and get this free, or just seek out a copy and buy it directly. It’s worth reading.

Dollars And Sense – What The Bible Says About You And Your Money

I had received this 20+ year old book this past Christmas from my parents, as part of a small finance-planning organizer bundle they gave me and initially I figured it’d be a quick-read.

Written by Larry Burkett — a Biblical finance radio host from years ago — Dollars and Sense was only a couple hundred pages long, with each page covering a new keyword, and a related verse supporting the subject matter above. The main point of it was to give Christians a solid overview of key, wealth-related Biblical ideas.

Originally I planned to finish reading this book and review it nearly two months ago, but this title — unfortunately — was so unpleasant to finish that I had to push myself to get through it at least a dozen times. The way the content was presented and the “tone” of the author made me dread even opening the book. But, since it was a gift — and should be easy to finish — I felt obligated to read it.

The book had many core issues, which I’ll briefly touch on, including: 1) The book used the same verses over and over, for multiple topics. 2) The author merged verses together, without context, to support his message above them. 3) The translations used (TLB and NAS) are questionable in their accuracy, given so many context issues already present. 4) Sometimes Larry referenced parts of the Bible in support of his opinion, but the verse(s) below would then be something totally different. Confusing! 5) A few times words were clearly mentioned as being opposite — like “strength” and “cowardice” — even though they aren’t, just so a specific verse could be used. 6) Another issue was that often the verse used for a topic had nothing to do with the content above it at all, or was too generalized to make a connection. 7) Lastly, Burkett’s a guy who nags about modern-day tithing — multiple times — without giving the subject its proper, historical context.

Long-story short, I would say avoid this book at all costs. For it being so simplistic in style and so short, you should be able to get through it quickly — but instead you’ll likely be like me, and find it to be an absolute chore. Spend your precious time studying with God, using more valuable materials.

Handbook Of World Religions

2017-01-01-handbookofworldrThe Handbook of World Religions (HoWR) is a pretty interesting guide that gives a short summary of 50 different religions from all over the world, and then gives a Christian-centric comparison for each.

For example, for Juche — the state-allowed religion in North Korea — the book simply describes what “Sacred Text(s)” are read, followers’ views on the “Nature of God,” what they think about Jesus Christ, etc. Each religion covered also has information about its location, follower size, important details about significant figures in their history, holidays observed, as well as many other things that help paint an accurate picture of it in the reader’s mind.

Since each religion’s chapter is only about 4-6 pages long, you can easily pick up the book here and there and and not lose context (or your place), yet still make progress in finishing it. That’s a very good thing.

If I had any complaints about the HoWR, I would say that the over-emphasis on Hindu/Buddhist/India-region religions all blended together for me and seemed to take up way too much space overall. It’s hard enough understanding all of the foreign-sounding names in these religions — I almost wish only one or two were covered … and like the UFO religion that covers similar UFO beliefs in small blurbs … only brief references to similar Indian-area religions were indicated.

The other problem I had was that stuff like “The Creativity Movement” (which is a white power movement more than a religion) and “The Way International” are covered at all. “World religions” to me means any religion with close to a hundred-thousand confirmed followers, at a minimum. Many of these religions in the book appear to be more cult-like than actual, significant religions.

Also, I wouldn’t expect to fly through reading this book either, despite its short page count, due to all the text crammed on each page. Less info on each may have actually been better, but the full-color book probably required all space to be used.

Overall, the Handbook of World Religions is a good reference book to refer to in general and a rather-quick primer regarding the largest of religions out there.

A Prophecy of the Future of America: 2016-2017

2016-10-29-prophecyofthefutureofamerica2016“A Prophecy of the Future of America: 2016-2017” by Paul McGuire is the latest book I have read, and I picked it up after seeing a segment on the Prophecy Watchers show (and being intrigued about the title).

Unfortunately, the book is nothing like what was described or implied by the title (I figured this would be an analysis of the election, the two possible political choices, potential outcomes and how it will all be related to scripture and end-time prophecy).

Instead, what the reader gets are 46 often short but all-over-the-place chapters that seem to have no goal or path to any unifying message. The topic discussed most is wealth, with some scriptural quotes thrown in that sorta tie in to his messages.

The worst thing about the book though comes in the final 25% (last 75 pages or so) where the author starts saying questionable things like:

“It all comes down to this: DOES GOD TRUST YOU? If God knows that when He blesses you with money, power, and position that you will truly use it for His Kingdom priorities, then He will often increase your wealth and power!”

That sounds “prosperity”-ish …. and this stance is later contradicted by the following statement, which downplays the financial rewards for believers and says he’ll simply “supply what you need.”

“Christians are terrified about the future. What is going to happen? Will they have money? They are missing the main point. If you are truly busy being engaged with what God called you to do, God will supply all of your needs, including money and you won’t have to worry all the time.”

Most frighteningly, the author states this at the very end, after you’ve absorbed hundreds of pages of his thoughts:

“We who believe have been given the exceeding greatness of His power, the same power that resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places… …We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and therefore we reign with Him.”

I genuinely hope he doesn’t think believers — flawed humans who need Jesus’ forgiveness to escape Hell — are equipped with the ability to bring the Son of God back from the dead … or that we’ll be sitting next to God, or that we are heirs with Jesus Christ (implying we’re equal somehow).

I would recommend avoiding this very strange book.

Strange And Mysterious Stuff From The Bible: From The Weird To The Wonderful

2016-09-01-strangeandmysteriousI was intrigued by this book when I came upon it in the local Christian book store, because it had a few things going for it that I thought were interesting: 1) It was pretty short, and divided up into small, bite-sized chunks for easier reading. 2) It seemed to cover a wide variety of Biblical topics, vs. just one specific thing. 3) It seemed to focus on oddball and less-known things that confused or made Bible readers raise an eyebrow.

It took me a couple weeks to finish, and because the sections are so short, you never really lost your place in what was being talked about. You could literally pick the book up, read it for just a few minutes, and make a decent amount of progress overall.

That said, the topics in the book are less “weird” than just well-known bits taken from major stories in the Bible. I was expecting more of a focus on the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes info that explained why certain events happened or were described like they were in the Bible. Instead, you mostly get a quick summary, a sentence or two of lesser-known background info and then typically a quip or two.

Where the book falls short is that it seems like there is a sense of disbelief in the Bible’s authenticity itself, based on the constant references the author makes to “experts” trying to take-out-of-context or debunk stories like the parting of the Red Sea (the “reed sea” is brought up), the measurements of Heaven (as described in Revelation), saying Ruth was a questionable character (crawling under the covers), etc. If you’re even somewhat familiar with these topics from other sources, you’ll definitely get an uneasy feeling reading Stephen M. Miller’s content.

He also uses questionable phrases and wording, as a way to describe events. They sometimes come off as borderline crude and inappropriate, with section titles like “Baal: Gone to the Potty” and “Date with an Energizing Prostitute.” It’s … odd.

Lastly, some topics are covered over and over, like the Baal Priests getting killed and Jacob’s dealings with his wives. With 250 topics over 212 pages, I feel like the valuable, useful, tastefully written content could have been trimmed to 50 topics across 50 pages. Personally, I would say skip this $12.99 book. You’ll learn just as much by getting a good Study Bible that lacks an author desperately trying to be snarky and humorous.

Exo-Vaticana: Petrus Romanus, Project L.U.C.I.F.E.R. and the Vatican’s Astonishing Plan for the Arrival of an Alien Savior

2016-08-04-exovaticanaExo-Vaticana is a recent popular book from authors Thomas Horn and Cris Putnam that tackles the controversial subjects of both UFOs and conspiracies within the Vatican dealing with them. The book is a massive 550+ pages long, and covers a daunting variety of topics such as astrology, astronomy, biology, UFO incidents and testimonies, ancient mythology, politics and a good amount of history on the Catholic church too.

While I can definitely get behind the idea of UFOs and alien encounters reported by people as actually being demonic (for the incidents, testimonies and evidence that can’t be explained), I’m not 100% convinced — after reading through over half-a-thousand pages — that the Catholic church has anything specific up its sleeve concerning “aliens” or an “alien savior.”

To me, it just seems more likely that the scientists the Vatican employs are typical, secular scientists, with a dash of Catholic flavoring thrown in. To them, they say things like, “aliens might exist elsewhere” and then follow up with statements like, “Of course the church would accept them!” … but not because they know something we don’t … rather, they simply want to keep their lucrative, coveted positions that bridge both the religious and academic sectors. Astronomers that might not otherwise get the time of day can easily become known and be read if they speak on behalf of the Catholic church. And let’s face it, with all the controversies facing the Vatican over the past couple of decades, the church is actively trying to embrace non-Catholic stuff as much as possible (including science) to appear as though they not as backwards as the world tends to believe.

So, while the church may sign off on some “out there” statements by Vatican astronomers, they obviously have to do so out of necessity, to maintain a secular foothold in academia and science. The evidence presented here just doesn’t convince 100%.

The book also seems to place a great deal of “sources cited” on Jacques Vallée, a secular ufologist. Without his quotes and several questionable chapters relating to first-hand eyewitness testimonies of UFO/alien encounters, the vast majority of this publication falls apart. Overall, the book worth a read if you just skim the first few chapters and the last one, but overall it’s just too wordy, too all-over-the-place and too bloated for the message it’s trying to convey.