Succeeding when you’re supposed to fail by Ram Brafman

I bought this book on a lark. I am glad that I did.

Rom Brafman points out that for as nearly as long as can be remembered in mental health services that what happened to you dictated what you did. By and large, he states, “The prevailing notion in the field used to be that few could realistically overcome their circumstances” (Bram, 2011 p. 12).

They can’t help it, they were born into a really bad situation. Their parents were (fill in the blank). Look at the hand they were dealt, no wonder they do what they do.

Then one day it all changed. Brafman points out that it was by accident that the field discovered that there were people who overcame their circumstances. They didn’t allow the pathology of others to drag them down. They didn’t allow being born into bad circumstances hold them back. They didn’t allow being captured by an enemy to break them or keep them from achieving amazing things.  He calls these people tunnelers, which is a science term.

The field discovered people who succeeded when they should have failed. When many would have written them a pass for failing. When many would have been willing to chalk up that failure to circumstances outside of their control.  Brafman states that when the masses of people who have succeeded when they should have failed are studied six characteristics emerge.

They are:

The limelight effect—Tunnelers have a high sense of inner locus of control. This means that they believe they control their destiny.
Meaning making—Tunnelers find meaning in what is before them and what they are doing.
Unwavering commitment—Tunnelers believe in themselves and their calling. They will stick with a task as long as necessary.
Temperament and success—Tunnelers believe in developing an “even tempered disposition” They’re unwavering commitment means that a loss or set back or a series of them will not cause them to lose faith.
Humor counteracting adversity—Tunnelers enjoy laughing and humor. It helps them deal with the different opportunities that life tends to send their way.
The importance of a Satellite—Tunnelers have someone in their life (sometimes only for a necessary season) who invests in them and acts as a satellite.
This book is a great read. If you are one of the people who society seems to think “should fail” read this book. It may encourage you. If you believe that people are a simply a product of their what life has dealt them, read this book. It will challenge you.

Life is hard, of that there is no doubt. But we do not have to be slaves to our circumstances.
You may enjoy more of my writings on my personal webpage, found at www.joemartino.com

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The Whole Brain Child

Every parent should buy this book. Siegel and Bryson do an excellent job of breaking down parenting as a process and not an event.

They teach the reader how to navigate through the right brain, left brain model. So if your child is having a right brain meltdown, they teach you how to reach them there before you move to logic. Some parents will find that to be a basic skill, but many will find it very new and rewarding.

Understanding the idea of an upstairs and downstairs brain is also a major accomplishment in this book. Most of the time, we as a people do not give thought to the why of what we do. This book helps explain a more integrated approach to parenting. One of the most controversial parts of the book will no doubt be when the author’s take on the idea that parents should ignore tantrums. They dare to suggest that actually attempting to teach your child to process their feelings in the middle of the tantrum could be the best approach.

Another excellent take-away with this book is the idea that parents need to move away from denying and dismissing their child’s feelings. Too often, I see parents dismiss their child’s feelings because the feelings manifest in a way that the parent doesn’t like or the parent doesn’t know how to process his or her own feelings.

This book does an excellent job of helping understand how to process emotions in a healthy way. If you child is experiencing fear, there are simple and real life takeaways that you can utilize to help them. If your child is angry with you because you set a boundary for them, there are easy to use ways that you can help your child express that in a healthy way! This is one of the best aspects of this book.

Lastly, this book gives a very cursory overview of mirror neurons. They are amazing and we all have them. If you have angry children, it might be because you are angry. Our brains are wired for “we” is an exact quote from the book. As parents, we have to be integrated in order to raise integrated children. This book will find a lot of push back by the far right who believe a parents number one goal is to punish the evil out of their children and by those who find it doesn’t match the way they parented.

Regardless, buy it. You will not regret it. In fact, I suspect that you will be very happy that you did.

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoying subscribing to Joe Martino’s posts at his webpage. Find out more at www.joemartino.com

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Book Review: Every Man’s Battle

Every Man’s Battle

WaterBrook Press

By Stephen Arterburn & Fred Stoeker

232 pages +study guide

I’m going to approach this review slightly differently than I would normally approach a review. That is, it will not be as long or detailed as it normally would be because this sort of book really does not lend itself to the sort of criticism I would normally level against a book. After all, who can argue with the need for sexual purity, especially among Christians for whom it is expected?

That said, I cannot really criticize this book because, as the cover boasts, the series of which it is a part has sold a whopping 3 million copies (and I assume that number continues to grow as people learn about the series and as more and more people finally figure out that they are sexually out of control.) Again, who can argue? So I have only a couple of thoughts I would bring to the table for discussion and, as always, these are my perceptions which will necessarily differ from the perceptions of others. This is a good thing because it provokes conversation.

It is sort of difficult to read this book without being confronted with the fact that yes, indeed, we all have issues when it comes to purity. It is true, as the authors say, ‘impurity is a habit.’ I was confronted by this page after page. Personal anecdote: I went back to graduate school two years ago at a relatively local university. I am 41. Enough said. Purity issues are complicated and difficult, and it is terribly easy to fall into the habit of taking a peak or hoping for just a glimmer or hoping, secretly of course, that the young coed, easily half my age, forgets she is wearing a short skirt or remembers, as the case may be.

Young coeds on a university campus abound in mischief when it comes to clothing or the lack thereof. I will never cease to be amazed at how creative girls/women can be with the exposure of flesh—and frankly, it does not require as much imagination as they expend. I very much agree with the authors that I have to make a decision to be sexually pure and that it is not just a matter of graduating from the university and no longer being tempted; the temptations will be all around, every day.

I also agree that we need to have a shield or protection. I found mine one day when I was reading the daily office: “I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. I will not look with approval on anything that is vile” (Psalm 101:2-3). I have to focus myself in the mornings because typically, for some reason, my weakness is in the morning. In the mornings I have to be alert for that is when the enemy prowls around my head. We have to be careful and alert to the tricks of the enemy.

A couple of criticisms that are more along the lines of style and not so much content. First, I think maybe the book needs a little updating or generalizing. It was almost amusing to read about lusting over billboards, female joggers, beer and bikini commercials, and receptionists (Chapter 11, elsewhere). Maybe in California female joggers are a problem, but not so much where I live. It could be that the authors merely want us to generalize and that space prevented them from saying things like: your hot neighbor across the street while she cuts the grass in her white t-shirt, the really fine looking Facebook friend who is always changing her profile picture, or the 20 year old coed walking around campus in her short skirt and high-heels. But again, that might just be me.

I also thought the whole shtick about ‘playing the dweeb’ is kind of corny too. And so too the whole thing about being a horse and allowing women to ‘approach your corral.’ The authors write, concerning Dweebman, “Show her that her initial attraction to you was a ridiculous mistake. Choose to be boring, and do it fastidiously. Later, when she’s no longer attracted to you, you can be your normal, interesting self again” (178). Or you could just be honest and say, “I’m taken—since, evidently, the wedding band did not clue you in.”

Finally, the notion that I should refer to my wife as a ‘ewe lamb’ is patently absurd. If I told my wife something like that, she’d either vomit or punch me or both (not to mention the fact that I believe this seriously misses the point of the parable Nathan told David). I think there are better ways to love our wives and respect them and care for them without resorting to such a childish image.

This book is clearly written for men who have already lost the battle and want to recoup something of their identity. However, and this is key, if sexual purity is a matter of habit—and I believe they are correct on this point—then there is no reason whatsoever that young, single men cannot read this book and benefit greatly. Habits are formed early and it is easier to prevent a habit than it is to get out of a habit. Furthermore, the best quote in the book sums up the entire point: “Spiritual maturity is always dictated by our willingness to sacrifice our own desires for the desires of others or for the interests of the kingdom” (quoting Rick Joyner, page 187).

And here is the point: for the Christian man, sexual purity is about spiritual maturity. We are meant to grow up and leave behind those things from our childhood—whether it is sexual, emotional, or whatever and if reading 200 plus pages about two men’s struggles with masturbation and ogling does not help heighten the purity and stretch the maturity, then I do not know what else will. Seriously.

I recommend this book to married men, Christian or otherwise, and also to single men who want to develop good habits before bad habits consume and destroy them.

4.5/*****

By this Book from Amazon.com

Every Man’s Battle online

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The Secret of Indigo Moon by GP Taylor

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The Secret of Indigo Moon

by GP Taylor

291 pages

Tyndale House Publishers, inc

The Secret of Indigo Moon might have been better if I had read the first volume in the series The First Escape. Nevertheless, volume 2 in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles series of books was a quick, delightful read. I enjoyed it first to last and I am looking forward to reading the other volumes in the series.

This was a quick read for me. I read it in one sitting on Saturday May 14, 2011. The pace was brisk and the pages full of art/comic pages really helped keep the pace at that brisk level. This book is a combination of typeset pages and graphic novel and picture book. The pages are nice and thick and the hardcover book is sturdy and has a nice gloss to it. I especially enjoyed how some pages were white ink on black background and other pages were the opposite.

I like reading children’s literature. I have read the entire Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events and the entire Harry Potter series (twice). I have also spent considerable time reading C.S. Lewis’s fiction (Narnia, Space Trilogy) so I’m no stranger to reading children’s fiction and enjoying it. The Dopple Ganger Chronicles is a fun idea and The Secret of Indigo Moon is a fun story.

In my opinion, this would be a good book to get into the hands of some junior high or advanced elementary school kids. Adults will find it predictable and will have very little difficulty figuring out what is going on from beginning to end, but that will not detract from the sheer enjoyment of getting lost in a story on a rainy Saturday afternoon. (And there is nothing wrong with adults reading children’s literature.)

The art is well done. It is not tacky and does not detract from the story but enhances it time and time again. There are some genuinely scary moments and even more genuinely funny moments. And there is a lot of action—from the first page to the last, the book is action packed. The characters hardly ever stop to breathe. There is suspense (is Miss Rimmer a ‘bad guy’? Who is the strange Lord Gervez?) All the elements that make a story compelling are contained within the pages and lead up to a satisfying, if incomplete, ending (there is already published a third installment The Great Mogul Diamond).

If I have a complaint it is this: Madame Raphael who is some sort of angelic being. It is very difficult to include angelic figures in literature (because we know so little about angels) and I am not, generally speaking, a fan of it. Frankly, we moderns (or postmoderns) know too little about angels who are, by biblical admission, ‘ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation’ (Hebrews 1:14). Is that enough information to cast them as characters in our fiction? From a strictly theological point of view, this (Hebrews 1:14) can mean one of two things. On the one hand, it could mean angels serve those who are already destined for salvation with no regard for those who are not ‘among the living’ just yet (that is, Christians). On the other hand, it could mean that angels serve even those who are not yet ‘in the camp’ but will be some day so that the angels are kind of leading them in that direction (that is, not yet Christians but soon or later will be).

I’m not a fan of angels being characters inside of fiction for this reason. It seems hopeful at best and misunderstanding at worst to pair them (angels) with characters who are not explicitly those who ‘will inherit salvation’. Yet maybe that is God’s prerogative.  Those who read books theologically (as I do) can sort of gloss over such things or re-interpret them through another lens. Children might not be so thoughtful. I might be over-sensitive on this part and perhaps I need to give the author a bit more poetic license; that much I will concede. For the sake of getting the book into people’s (children’s) hands, I suppose there has to be certain vagaries. My hope is that this ‘new C.S. Lewis’ will not always feel compelled to be so vague.

“Some people have a desire to search for the truth, and others do not. The Companion is all around us, yet many people go through life unaware of who he is” says Madame Raphael. That might be true, but I suppose as far as the Dopples and the Ganger are concerned, we will have to read other volumes to see how far they are willing to go in search of the truth—and what exactly the author perceives as the truth.

I recommend this book to advanced elementary students through adults.

****/5

Get the first chapter of The Secret of Indigo Moon

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**To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, please mention as part of every Web or Amazon review that Tyndale House Publishers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book or ARC.

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Book Review: The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

The Final Summit

By Andy Andrews

243 Pages, including Reader’s Guide

Thomas-Nelson Publishers, Hardcover

The Final Summit is a different sort of book than I normally read. To be sure, I do not spend a great deal of time reading fiction so when I opened this book and began to read it, I was, indeed, surprised. This is no ordinary book of fiction; this is no ordinary book at all.

The Final Summit is the sequel to Andrews’ book The Traveler’s Gift which featured the character David Ponder (I believe my details are accurate, although I have not read The Traveler’s Gift). Fortunately for me, Andrews reviews the former story in chapter 1 as the main character, Ponder, rehearses for the reader his former journeys. On the former journey, Ponder, met several people from history and each one gave Ponder an important, pithy, saying by which he might rebuild his broken life.

Along the way, he met Harry Truman, King Solomon, Joshua Chamberlain, Christopher Columbus, Anne Frank, Abraham Lincoln, and an arch-angel named Gabriel (whom I presume to be the same angel named Gabriel  we find in the Bible). Each of these historical persons gave Ponder a bit of wisdom that he refers to as the Seven Decisions for Success. The Final Summit follows much the same pattern that The Traveler’s Gift followed: Ponder is at the end of his ropes again, the archangel Gabriel makes another appearance, and various people from history show up to guide Ponder on his way.

The gist of the story is that the world is on the edge of destruction and Ponder, guided by a Virgil like Gabriel, convenes a meeting of the (dead, historical) minds and they begin to talk about how they are going to save this fragile world—as if the world needs any more saving; as if we have the capability to talk ourselves into a solution. We are also reminded of how quickly the world is slipping away by the most conspicuously placed hourglass.

Winston Churchill serves as a startling doppelganger to Ponder and, frankly, is rather annoying. Given that this is my first introduction to Andrews’ writing, the Churchill character greatly disappointed me.

I also found Gabriel’s manner of speech to be inane. He refers to everyone he speak to by their first and last names. This might be a clever literary device, but it was sort of lost on me. So Ponder is not Mr Ponder or David, but David Ponder; Churchill is Winston Churchill. It’s a small thing, and maybe it is explained in the other book. I still would find it annoying.

My third complaint is the utter lack of diversity in the book. Well, utter, is a bit strong. There is one black man who gets a voice in the book and that is George Washington Carver. There is only one woman, Joan of Arc—seriously? (Other characters include Abraham Lincoln, Eric Erickson, King David, and Joshua Chamberlain.) In two books, drawing on nearly 2000 years of history and the entire world, it is absolutely amazing to me that only one black man and two women made the cut. It is also rather amazing that a certain man from Nazareth failed to make the cut.

It’s kind of hard to imagine a narrower world than the one created in this book. To be sure, the ‘audience’ participating in the story includes a great many women and people of minority status. Still, the plot turns on those who are chosen to share their wisdom with Ponder in the hopes of saving the nearly dead world. The ideas shared by the ones chosen are great ideas and there is nothing wrong with the ideas. (I do have a slight problem with the notion that everyone included in the story has somehow or other been ‘saved’, but that’s a theological argument I’m not prepared to defend in this review.) The problem is that I’m just not so sure this is good fiction.

Each chapter was well written. I especially enjoyed chapter 9 and the discussion of depression, Churchill’s ‘black-dog,’ and self-discipline. This was probably the best chapter in the book and it is a fair representation of the style of the rest of the book. Great discussions take place and much of what is said is wise and beautiful—well worth the read.  The conversations, placed in the mouths of historical persons, make great fodder for conversation and combined with the reader’s guide could be useful even in a small group setting or a reading circle. Readers are also provided with some great background information—in particular I found the story of Eric Erickson fascinating.

“And success in any endeavor where self-discipline is involved boils down to this question: can you make yourself do something you don’t particularly want to do in order to get a result you would like to have?” (156).

This is wonderful, sermon-worthy stuff: “Unless you change how you think and how you act, you will always be who you are” (161). The book gave me a lot to think about and it will for anyone who reads it. In this regard, the book reads like a fictionalized Tony Robbins or Stephen Covey and maybe it is supposed to. Those who find motivational speaking or writing enjoyable will be wowed by this book.

This is a short, easy read. It was fun and entertaining. I have grave doubts as to the solution and as I was waiting for the end, even anxiously awaiting the end, I found it profoundly disappointing and anticlimactic. I tried really hard to like this book. I tried really hard to like the premise. I tried rally hard to find the conclusion satisfying and rewarding. I was left wanting. This is not the type of fiction all readers of fiction will enjoy.

The book is not a total loss though. There is much to enjoy and there is much to ponder. There is even something to be said about the conclusion of the book: It’s not an entirely bad idea, I just don’t know if it will save the world. It may be helpful. It may be a super idea. And it may be that in its simplicity there is  a great deal more truth than I am giving credit for, but none us of can wait to see if it is true. We have to get busy testing it. Then we will know.

****/5

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I was provided with a free copy of The Final Summit for review purposes. I was in no way compensated for this unbiased review.

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Fasting by Scott McKnight

Jesus once said:

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

Earlier, in the same sermon, Jesus also said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

So here, in what is arguably the most important sermon ever preached, fasting is mentioned twice: once rather prominently and a second time veiled in mystery; nevertheless, twice. I suppose Jesus could have preached many sermons about many things, and, to be sure, he probably did. John reminds us Jesus did and said many other things that are not written about in these books (or at least his). I sometimes like to imagine what Jesus would think of the sermons we humans have preached. When I was preaching regularly, that was always my deepest caution: what would Jesus think of this word or that word, this idea or that. I think more preachers would do well to imagine Jesus reading their sermons before they preached them. Yet I digress.

In this sermon, Jesus mentions fasting. He doesn’t talk about justification by faith. He doesn’t talk about substitutionary atonement. He doesn’t mention the cross or his resurrection. But he does mention fasting. This leads me to wonder why: why would Jesus, in this most important sermon, mention fasting so prominently?

Fasting, by Scott McKnight, is one book in a series of books published by Thomas Nelson in their The Ancient Practices Series of books that also includes titles such as Sabbath, Tithing, The Liturgical Meal, and In Constant Prayer. This is the first book (Fasting, that is) I have read in the series. I have to say that I thoroughly, 100% enjoyed this book. I was refreshed. I was strengthened. I was renewed. McKnight found a way to take a topic usually reserved for Lent and show how it is, and should be, an everyday practice among those who follow Jesus. (For example, he wrote, “More attention needs to be given by proponents of body discipline to the A Column—to the grievous sacred moments that prompt fasting as a daily, rather than occasional, response” 63.)

I love this book, and, frankly, that is saying something because I am very hard to please when it comes to books (there’s only a handful of authors who get instant approval from me—authors like Eugene Peterson and NT Wright and Stephen Ambrose to name a few.) It is also important for me to note my love of this book because I opened the pages with a healthy dose of skepticism. The series of books of which this one is a member includes a book by Brian McLaren and the series itself is edited by Phyllis Tickle and I thought at the beginning, “Why would McKnight include his name among people who have been relentless dogged as heretics and who are famous for the theological scandals they create?” By the time I was finished I was saying, “How could Brian McLaren and Phyllis Tickle, famous for their willingness to kick against theologically orthodox goads have their names associated with something so thoroughly and theologically orthodox, something so profoundly, deeply, thoroughly Scriptural?”

Yes. This is, in my estimation, the most important aspect of McKnight’s work: it is deeply Scriptural and when he ventures into the area of personal conjecture or historical church tradition, he is always careful to say something like, “we don’t know” (73) or “[B]ut we have to be fair with what the Bible says and doesn’t say” (69).  He is extremely careful to note for his readers when the Bible does and does not say something and is willing to criticize authors (like Dallas Willard) who make conjectures which may not be explicitly spelled out in Scripture.

Another important aspect of this book is that McKnight is also extremely aware of church history. He makes more than passing references to Andrew Murray, John Calvin, John Wesley, Jerome, Tertullian, Augustine, Martin Luther, and more. Modern authors find their way into the book also. One particular moment caught me by surprise and made me laugh. He may or may not have done it intentionally, but I was amused the find the name of John Piper in the book—actually in the introduction to the work. He is tracing a line from the Scripture to the early church all the way to the modern church. So he mentions Dallas Willard (a Protestant author), then he mentions John Piper (a Reformed Pastor), then Thomas Ryan (a Roman Catholic Priest). I found it amusing that John Piper finds himself in agreement with a Roman Catholic and Dallas Willard.

The importance of this, however, is that it demonstrates a connectivity in the major streams of Christian thinking: we are not all so different after all. Here John Piper can be quoted as freely as Joe Biden or Dallas Willard or Thomas Ryan or Tony Hall or Paul the Apostle or Abraham Heschel. We have something to learn from one another. In this sense, McKnight is not the author of the book as much as he is the editor, bringing together all these wise words and putting them before us in order that we might see the connection and understand: now is the time for fasting!

The book is rooted deep in Scripture and tradition. There is a healthy, wholesome balance—but tradition never trumps Scripture. McKnight is a careful scholar who respects the traditions of the church, but who is also determined  to demonstrate that perhaps there is something greater, more important that binds us together than our strange theological traditions.

Fasting serves a purpose, but it is not often what we might expect. Consider:

I have come to this conclusion about fasting: when the grievous sacred moment is neglected and instead we focus on the results, fasting becomes a manipulative device instead of a genuine, Christian spiritual discipline. Far too much of the conversation about fasting is about what we can get and not enough about the serious and severe sacred moments that prompt fasting. (xxi)

This is the echo that continues to reverberate throughout this book: we fast not to get something even if we get something from fasting. The end of fasting is not losing weight or answered prayers or healing or anything but God himself. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Jesus said, “for they will be filled.” Our goal is not the self-centered ideas we have, “Oh, if I just fast for a few days God will see me, reward me, and bless me. Yet the Scripture is fairly clear, “If you would humble yourself, and before God, in secret, fast, you will be rewarded—you will get God.” Thus he can write, “Because the Israelites yearned for God’s presence, they fasted; that yearning was blessed by God” (30).

He goes on later to say something similar:

The emphasis of these passages in the Bible is not that fasting clears the mind and opens the windows for God’s light to enter. Instead, the emphasis is on the yearning of God’s people to know God’s will. They are focused on the sacred moment more than the use of fasting as an instrument to get what they want. To be sure, they wanted something and they pleaded with God to get it, but I want to emphasize that there is genuine spiritual balance here: these good folks encountered the serious sacredness of wanted to know God’s will, and that yearning prompted their body plea. (49)

And so it goes for one-hundred and sixty nine pages. He continually draws us back to this simple fact that fasting is not about what we get (sometimes we get nothing) but about being with God, hungering and thirsting for God, finding our appetites sated only by the presence of God. McKnight concludes, “Ultimately, then, fasting is being with God and on God’s side in the midst of life’s grievous sacred moments” (169). This is key to understanding the position he takes and he consistently emphasizes and reinforces this point: fasting is about God, seeking him, searching him, hungering for him.

I love this book and there is so much more I want to say about it, but I want you to read it for yourself and discover these gems and jewels and graces. He has very important points to make about fasting and justice, fasting and suffering, fasting and sacraments, and more. The overall layout of the book is superb and flows beautifully. Still, what I want to emphasize is something I scribbled in the margin on page 59: I continue to be amaze at McKnight’s overwhelming dependence on Scripture to make his case.  This is an especially wonderful exposition of Scripture and its implications for the everyday life of the Christian. Why? Because we will need such wisdom to help us through dark times—such as the times currently upon us—in this life. Life, by any measure, is long, and the journey is complicated with all sorts of grief and frustration. Peter wrote that we should be ‘alert and of sober mind’ (1 Peter 5:8). Fasting is an important and necessary way to stay disciplined, to focus on our hunger for righteousness, to respond to the grievous, sacred moments of life, to earnestly seek God and his will:

Body discipline is not about the immediate resolution; instead, body discipline prepares the Christian for the long haul. This kind of discipline, like all the other kinds of fasting described in this volume, brings to expression an overall yearning to be more holy, to be more loving, and to be more responsive to God, self, others, and the entire world….Progress is measured in decades, not days. (67)

I highly recommend this book and give it a robust 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Scott McKnight @ Jesus Creed

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**I received Fasting free for writing this review. Visit BookSneeze for more information.

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Dragons of the Valley-Donita K Paul

I consider myself a fairly wide read fantasy fan. I enjoy many different styles of fantasy writers and books. This book simply did not do it for me. I am not sure if it is because this is book two in a story. If I had not received this through a book review program, I would have stopped half way through, maybe a quarter of the way through. I was never able to bring myself to care about the characters. For me, characters make the story and these characters were boring. Perhaps, if I had the back-story from the first book, it would have helped. Maybe I personally just didn’t connect with the characters and you will. The best I can give this book is two stars. I don’t agree with some reviewers that I’ve read who say the sentence structures are all the same. There is some variance in the cadence and structure, and the storyline has promise. In the end, the characters just did not seem to be all that interesting.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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