Stand Up and Fight Back–Book Review

Empower-StandUpStand Up and Fight Back: How to Take Authority over Satan and Win was written by New York Times best-selling author Ken Abraham. I had heard of this author, but never read any of his material. Since I write extensively about spiritual warfare as well as teaching about it in church, the title immediately caught my attention and I knew I’d need to read it.

In Stand Up and Fight Back, the author shows us how we can recognize Satan’s constant attacks in our lives, how we can protect ourselves, and how to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat our greatest Enemy. Personally I feel as if the author delivered on most of these counts fairly well.

First of all, I was happy to see this book because I believe the topic of spiritual warfare is grossly underrated in the church community. Generally we like to talk about the armor of God with no real intent to use it daily. I believe Ken Abraham does an excellent job addressing the need for Christians to wake up and realize, whether they like it or not, they are under attack.

I was particularly pleased with the author’s insight into the familiar story of Adam and Eve. Having been in church most of my life and read an extensive amount of material on spiritual warfare, I cringed a bit when I started reading, again, about Adam and Eve. However, I was quite surprised at how much I learned from Abraham’s perspective of what happened in the Garden of Eden. He managed to take an overused story and bring it to life, shedding new light on old truths. I thought this area of the book was brilliantly written and well explained. I have to admit, I learned a great deal from it.

The author also uses thought-provoking illustrations throughout the book, many of which enhanced my understanding of familiar truths. One topic in particular stood out to me: repentance. This is something very few writers mention when dealing with spiritual warfare, but something Ken Abraham wisely addressed. In order to effectively fight against Satan and his cohorts, we must first come to God with an attitude of repentance. This is, of course, a biblical mandate (see Psalm 66:18) of which few teachers like to talk about. Before we can take authority over evil spirits, our lives must be cleansed of known sin and be in agreement with God, otherwise we can claim all the authority we want with little success. Confession should always be the first step when we approach God’s throne, whether we’re dealing with spiritual warfare or not. Thank you, Ken Abraham, for highlighting this important truth.

My only critique of this book is the author’s focus on the “big” sins: sexual promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, and involvement with the occult. Obviously these things are deadly and allow Satan a beachhead (foothold) in our lives. BUT, they are not the only areas of oppression the devil uses. Countless believers are daily living under accusation and oppression from demonic spirits who have successfully lulled them into complacency over their spiritual lives. I wish the author had offered more examples of the “every-day” battles common to most believers. I fear some may read this and get the idea that, because they have never struggled with the “big” sins, they are free and clear. This is not the case! Satan can and does attempt to deceive and mislead us in the mundane issues of life.

Overall I really did enjoy this book and learned some new things, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to understand how Satan could be working in their lives and how they can combat the Enemy with the truth.

Stand Up and Fight Back was released by Charisma House on February 5th, 2013 and is currently available for purchase. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions here are strictly my own.

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Angelguard–Book Review

AAGbook3d1ngelguard is a fictional novel written by Ian Acheson. I don’t normally read/review fiction, but when the author, Ian, approached me I could hardly resist, seeing as the theme of this book was spiritual warfare. I have to admit, for someone who is not into fiction that much, I had a heck of a time putting this book down. The plot was riveting from start to finish.

It all begins in London when a horrific bomb attack annihilates an entire football stadium full of fans. Shortly after, Los Angeles and Sydney experience similar attacks which take the lives of thousands. But this isn’t your typical terrorist attack. No, the plot is much deeper than that.

One of the main characters, Jack Haines, who survived the Sydney attack, finds himself at the center of a treacherous murder plot to take out the heads of the major rulers of the various countries around the world. But the battle he faces is not only in the physical realm, because as a Christ-follower, Jack understands the battle is also being fought in the spiritual realm.

Will Jack, with the aid of a few close friends, be able to stop this plan before it’s too late? Will the prayers of Christians from around the world be enough to rally the angelic host in victory over the forces of Satan? Or will one evil man’s greedy desires be enough to bring about a devastating loss of world leaders while ushering in a new world-wide state of chaos and destruction?

Overall I really enjoyed Angelguard, especially the scenes where angels and demons are being portrayed. The author did an excellent job of giving us, as the readers, and idea of what could take place in the unseen spiritual realm. The hardest part about reading a book like this, though, was the striking similarity in the portrayal of angels and demons found in Frank Peretti’s books, Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness, both of which I have read several times. It’s hard to separate them in my mind because Peretti’s books are practically the standard for writing such a spiritual tale. It’s a tall order to fill, which is probably why few have attempted it.

Obviously I enjoyed the book because I read it in only a few days, despite my hectic schedule. So, it definitely passed the test, as far as I’m concerned. However, I can’t give a fair review without mentioning the things I had problems with (which were very few). I’m hardly the expert on fiction writing, so take this opinion with a grain of salt; I probably don’t know what I’m talking about as much as a die-hard fiction reader would.

There were two things I guess you could say I didn’t care for. One was the use a few words that I believe could have been left out while still retaining the necessary dynamic the scene called for. The book isn’t littered with language by any means, in fact, there were only two scenes where questionable words were used (and what many may not even consider “bad” words), but nonetheless, I have to be honest and admit it bothered me a little coming from a Christian book, even though the verbiage was pretty tame compared to what you’d probably hear in a real-life scenario.

The other issue I had was with the ending. The book maintained such a high-action, page turning script that when all of a sudden it was over, I found myself asking, “What just happened, how did they do that?” Still, despite these two issues, I enjoyed the book a great deal, and would highly recommend this book to others who enjoy a fast-paced, action packed fiction read. The positive aspects of this book far outweigh the negative, so please don’t let my honesty in this review discourage you from buying the book. A lot of it has to do with personal taste as well.

The author has more books in the series coming out, and I will certainly be in line to buy them. If you enjoy fiction, do yourself a favor and grab this one up (buy it now on Amazon), I am sure this is only the beginning of a great new series of books. And while you’re at it, follow Ian’s blog, he’s a fantastic writer!

(I received a complementary copy of Angelguard in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and have not been coerced in any way.)

IanAIan Acheson works as a freelance strategy consultant. he and his wife, Fiona, live in Sydney, Australia with their two sons. Visit his website at www.ianacheson.com.

 

 

 

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is an author and freelance writer. She is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters online women’s ministry, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. She just released a new Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook._____________________________________________

 

Every Story Has a Villain, Even Yours

“Every story has a villain because yours does. You were born into a world at war. When Satan lost the battle against Michael and his angels, “he was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” (Rev. 12:9). That means that right now, on this earth, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of fallen angels, foul spirits, bent on our destruction. And what is Satan’s mood? “He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short” (v. 12). So what does he spend every day and night of his sleepless, untiring existence doing? “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against…those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (v. 17).

He has you in his crosshairs, and he isn’t smiling.

You have an Enemy. He is trying to steal your freedom, kill your heart, destroy your life. Very, very few people live like that. The alarm goes off, and they hit the snooze button, catch a few extra winks, gulp down a cup of coffee on their way to work, wonder why there are so many hassles, grab some lunch, work some more, come home under a sort of cloud, look at the mail, have dinner, watch a little TV, feed the cat, and fall into bed—without even once wondering how the Enemy might be attacking them. All they know is, they sure aren’t enjoying that abundant life Christ talked about.”

John Eldredge, Waking the Dead (pg. 151)

Book Review: Live Second-365 Ways to Make Jesus First

live secondLive Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First by Doug Bender is one of the most unique devotionals I have ever read. This isn’t your ordinary read-for-thirty-seconds-a-day type of book, neither is it a feel good, make you warm and fuzzy inside type of inspirational book. I’m not sure I’d even call it inspirational—but it is phenomenal.

I received this book before reading the I Am Second book or even understanding what the movement was about, however, after reading Live Second I am fairly convinced that the I Am Second movement is relevant and necessary in this modern, self-serving age.

Live Second is a challenge, 365 days of it, to put Jesus first. Every time I’d read a new day, I’d expect a cheesy predictable paragraph relating to the suggested reading passage. Instead, I was motivated and challenged to take action with what I’d learned. Nearly every day had a least one fabulous quote, and some days the entire text was rock solid awesomeness.

But wait, there’s more!

Not only is Live Second a 365 day devotional, it comes with a multi-faceted approach.  It includes a suggested Scripture passage (ok, nothing too exciting or different there) as well as a prayer and action steps to take what you’ve learned and apply it. Probably the coolest feature, though, is the video links included at the beginning of several of the devotionals. You can simply scan the code with your smart-device and pop up the correlating video. If you don’t have such technology, a link is included for you to type in. This book is very media-savvy.

I would say that the only downside (for some) is what I loved about it—the media features! For instance, I could not imagine my father ever reading such a book; all the hash-tags and scanning codes would drive him nuts. So, maybe not the best gift idea for grandma, but otherwise it is awesome in every way. Most importantly, it is loaded with transforming truth, something many current daily devotionals lack. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of picking up devotionals that give me short, pat answers to big spiritual issues. I like the depth that comes in a book like Live Second. I hope and pray the multi-media additions will appeal to a younger crowd, the next generation of youth who desperately need to see what a sold out, Christ-first faith looks like.

This is a MUST have book, in my opinion. I love it.

(I received Live Second from BookSneeze for review purposes only and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.)

For more info/resources on the I Am Second movement check out this website: www.iamsecond.com

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If you’d like a FREE hardcover copy of Live Second, I can help you out! Simply click HERE and “like” the page, then share the page with your friends (and if you’ve already “liked” the page, that’s fine, just share it with your friends and keep track of how many of them “like” the page because you shared it). For every “like” the page gets from you and your friends, you will be entered in a drawing to win the book. Let me know how many of your friends have liked the page and I will add that many entries for you in the drawing. Winner will be chosen on Friday, January 4th so there is plenty of time to share and get a bunch of entries! Any “like” received on the facebook page from the time this review is posted (now) will be entered.

Book Review: All in Perfect Time by Cat Hatchett

allinperfecttime1All in Perfect Time: Miraculous Personal Stories by Cat Hatchett is an inspirational collection of stories from people of all different faith backgrounds, nationalities, and cultures.

Have you ever wondered if there was such a thing as “divine appointments”? Or maybe you believe everything happens by chance? No matter what your faith, through the words of this book you will be encouraged to believe that something exists beyond yourself and your immediate circumstances. That we are all here for something greater than we could have possibly dreamed up for ourselves.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that each story is short and simple. The book is easy to pick up and read here and there, and does not require any sort of time commitment. It would make a great gift book for sure, whether you’re a Christian or not. It would be difficult not to be spiritually uplifted and inspired through the amazing experiences recorded in this book.

I recieved All in Perfect Time as a gift from a friend while I was going through some trying circumstances, and I found the stories within to be very encouraging and uplifting to my spirit. I was never asked to give a review or even share it with anyone, but chose to do so because I love the heart and ministry of the author and wanted to share that with you all. You can purchase the book on Amazon HERE.

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Cat Hatchett is the author of an inspirational autobiography titled “Walk Right Through It” written after the devastating loss of both of her parents in 2006. She started the Kingdom Connection fellowship in the San Fernando Valley, a vehicle to bring people in the community together for prayer needs and mutual support. You can visit her website HERE and follow her on Twitter HERE.

 

Book Review: Question Everything by Tyler Ellis

question everythingQuestion Everything by Tyler Ellis is a book like no other (watch the book trailer HERE).  Initially I was struck by the detailed format, and as a writer myself, overwhelmed with the amount of work and research that must have gone in to creating such a well thought out masterpiece.

When I first opened Question Everything, my thoughts went something like, “This is it?” But as I read through the questions I gradually realized how brilliant this was. What will you find on the pages of this book? Questions! A LOT of questions! Specifically there is an obersation-type question for each verse in the New Testament.

At first you might be wondering what place such a book has on your shelf, and admittedly I wondered that myself, but as I dug in to the text I started to understand the author’s intent more and more. The point is to ask questions about what you’re reading, and uncover the answers yourself. This is precisely why the author does not include his own answers. Those answers are for you to discover. Rather than read a book that tells you what a verse means, you can go to the source (the Bible) and do the work yourself. Instead of trusting everything you hear/read from other writers and theologians, you can dig in yourself.

Second Timothy 2:15 encourages us to study to show ourselves approved unto God, workers that are not ashamed and who rightly divide God’s word. What better way to do that then to walk through the words of the New Testament, one by one, and really ask questions about each verse?

I’m a Bible student and am used to the study of Scriptures, asking questions, and uncovering the answers, but this book is different then anything I have ever seen in college or church. While I have spent a great deal of time studying passages, or even individual words within a verse, I have never gone through every verse in the New Testament, one by one, and asked myself a relevant question about it. It is a great resource for the well-trained Bible student or the new Christian. It is even a great book for someone searching for the truth. Really, anyone could benefit from it. What a great idea, I wish I had thought of it! (But I do not envy the work that had to have gone into it.)

I look forward to getting a print copy so I can work through it with my daughter, whom I home-school. I know this will be a great addition to her Bible studies!

(I received Question Everything by Tyler Ellis for review purposes only and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.)

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Tyler Ellis is the author of“Question Everything: A fresh way to read the best-selling book of all time.  He serves on staff with Newark Church of Christ as a Campus Minister at the University of Delaware. He’s also an advocate in the cause of ending Bible poverty.  Hear more from Tyler on his blog, Facebook and Twitter.

The Radical Question/A Radical Idea by David Platt

radicalcover The Radical Question–A Radical Idea by David Platt is a small book, what I might describe as a gift book, that basically highlights the key messages from his full length books: Radical, and Radical Together. Reading this book(-let) was quick and easy yet full of deep meaning. I found myself highlighting nearly every line. In short, I loved this book and am inspired to go purchase the other full length books to gain a greater insight into David Platt’s message.

The radical question David poses? “What is Jesus worth to you?” Is He worth denying self and sacrificing the comforts of the American dream to reach the world with His message of life? Just what kind of radical devotion do we really have? Or is our  Christian life more about adding a little bit of Jesus into our personal agendas of health, wealth, and happiness?

And David’s radical idea? What would it look like if churches stopped spending millions of dollars on bigger better buildings and started redirecting those funds to meet the needs of countless millions in poverty around the world? Of course, his reasons and explanations go much deeper than that, but overall it is a question too important to ignore.

One pointed example he brings to light: the front of a Christian magazine proclaims in large letters how a church spends 23 million dollars on a new building. Then in smaller letters on the front page, that same church is praised for sending five thousand dollars to a third world country. I mean, wow. Five thousand dollars versus 23 million? Where is the church’s focus?

More than just preaching a message, David Platt and his congregation practice their words with tangible action. For instance, they cut 83% of their worship budget to use those resources overseas–spreading the gospel and meeting the needs of the poor, sick, and helpless. They realized that having the newest best technology, most talented singers/performers, or fancy productions was not nearly as important as meeting the needs of the world. What a radical idea!

I can say that fortunately I am a part of a church much like this: extremely outward focused. But many churches could use a prod in that direction, and these books by David Platt are a great place to start. Bravo, Mr. Platt, for speaking up and challenging the church to think about what the world would look like if we did unite in radical devotion to Jesus.

(I received this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah for review purposes only and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions here were strictly my own.)