the Holy Spirit

Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit by Jim Cymbala

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By Jim Cymbala

Looking for a book to read one day, on Christianbook.com, I happened to see Spirit Rising was on special. I thought: “Oh neat, a book on the Holy Spirit. I’ve always wanted to learn more about that.” (since in most Christian circles the talk is usually about Jesus or God, but not on the Holy Spirit.) I ordered it, because I wanted to learn more on a subject I admit I’m not as experienced in as I probably should be. When I received this book, I thought an endorsement from Francis Chan was especially interesting so I began reading Jim Cymbala’s book.

Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit is a book, which as you probably are able to imagine it is, about the Holy Spirit. Jim opens the book on expressing a thought which I expressed earlier in this review: various Christian circles neither understand nor talk enough about the role of The Holy Spirit and that needs to change. The meat of the focus for Mr. Cymbala’s book is The Holy Spirit, his church in Brooklyn, and testimonies from a few of his own parishioners. Does Jim speak of The Holy Spirit in a heretical way? And how insightful is Mr. Cymbala’s book concerning The Holy Spirit? Spirit Rising does a good job getting started on helping a Christian become more in tune with The Holy Spirit, but it is a light dusting of the surface readers are craving.

I am glad Mr. Cymbala did not promote anything heretical within his book, because the very phrase: “Tapping into the power of The Holy Spirit” is a risky phrase some might misinterpret as a piece of lingo from the heretical Immergant Church movement. I also appreciate the testimonies his parishioners gave for Spirit Rising, because some are very inspiring to read. My favorite testimony to read was concerning the woman immigrant from Latin America; though at times sad the ending is encouraging. Though these things are good, I also felt there could have been more to this book, because there were some unanswered questions… The book seems primarily focused more on trying to convince you into agreeing The Holy Spirit is a neglected teaching and ought to be further pursued through the example of his church in New York, rather THAN actually teaching you things about The Holy Spirit itself… Though I learned some things while reading Mr. Cymbala’s book, I was a little disappointed that time was more spent on talking about Brooklyn Tabernacle than The Holy Spirit itself…

Book Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Courageous: a DVD Review

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A Provident Film

When I have mentioned other Christian based titles to people, they don’t always seem to know what I’m talking about. However, if I mention Courageous as of recent times, most people know what exactly what I’m talking about whether they’ve seen it or not. Because there is such familiarity for this film, the friends of mine who had seen it told me they liked it, and simply because I personally liked Sherwood’s other films I bought a copy of this and desired to watch this with my wife. My wife and I watched this together, because this is a movie about fatherhood and family; both are very important to us.

Courageous is about a group of men who despite their share of problems desire to become better husbands and fathers. Adam Mitchell is a cop who has a good relationship with his wife and does well with his work, but doesn’t have the best relationship with his children. Another police officer has a teenage daughter whom he worries will be dating the wrong guy and doesn’t know yet how to handle the situation. Javier and his wife are struggling financially to provide for their family due to recent loss of employment, but Javier has faith God will provide for their family. And a rookie member of the force has his own emotional baggage caused by a mistake he made prior to becoming saved. Together these men and others strive to make amends for their mistakes, develop a stronger relationship with the Lord, and to simply just become better husbands/fathers in the process.

Like many others who watched this film, I really liked this. At times this would be pretty funny, one example is Javier pretending to be a member of the “Snake Kings” in order to scare a gang member. There was a bit of action to keep the senses thrilled too, this is good because otherwise I would have been a bit disappointed; after all they are cops you know.  Yet as a warning, without spoiling a particular plot line, there are some sad moments within this film too; my wife cried. My one down side is most cops I’ve ever interacted with or have heard about are not like the guys in this film, but I hope that changes. What they promote within the film I cannot help but feel is fantastic. Society seems to encourage men to act like boys and it’s a horribly wrong trend. Grown males need to know how to act like men and to be men, I feel this is a great start on how to address this cultural problem. I have been personally inspired to kick it up a notch by also developing a stronger relationship with the Lord, and I desire to follow what the Resolution says; I have the plaque you can buy framed on my study wall. This was a great film, I recommend this for others, and encourage viewers to take the challenge and take it seriously! I don’t believe this is legalistic, because the primary objective is to simply develop a better relationship with the Lord so you can also have a better relationship with everyone else in your life.

TCP Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

The Perfect Stranger: a DVD Review

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a Jefferson Moore Film

I’ve been meaning to watch this movie as I had it saved on my DVR from a time ago; it was on JCTV for those who are curious. Anyway, I liked Jefferson Moore in the movie Clancy, which I will review for you another day, and I heard good things about this movie too. The Perfect Stranger I couldn’t help, but find to be a curious idea as it sort of reminded me of the concept behind The Encounter only a different actor playing Jesus and only one person was talking to him.

The Perfect Stranger is about a stressed out lawyer named Nikki. She comes into work and sees on her desk an invitation to have dinner with Jesus Christ. At first she’s creeped out thinking it was “one of her crazy Christian neighbors”, but laughs it off thinking it was her husband inviting her on a date due to the fight they had earlier in the morning. She figures “why not?” since her daughter’ll be at a sleepover and she loves the food at Pepino’s Restaurant. When she gets there though, her husband isn’t there and it is as the invitation said “a Dinner with Jesus Christ”.

I thought this was pretty good, though I would say The Encounter was better about using this “if you could have dinner with Jesus Christ what would you ask him?” concept, even though The Perfect Stranger is based on the original book by David Gregory. I think Jefferson Moore is a very good actor in this film as well and the woman who plays Nikki is decent at times too. The camera work isn’t the best, but then again this is a low-budget film and the concept for the film isn’t supposed to have anything worth using CGI’s for so what do you expect right lol? I liked most of what was talked about during their dinner conversation, some might find it controversial Jesus was drinking wine *gasp*, I thought a few of the questions could have gone a little better in that they didn’t talk about Evolution much, but maybe they did that for the sequel Another Perfect Stranger, I’ll have to find out.  (when I write that review I’ll link it here) Overall this was a pretty decent movie, though I’d say this is definitely for the adults as the kids might find this to be boring.

TCP Movie Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

An Easter Carol: a VeggieTales DVD Review

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VeggieTales

I watched VeggieTales’ new movie ‘Twas the Night Before Easter, earlier last week. While writing my review for that movie, I realized VeggieTales made another Easter movie called An Easter Carol back in the early 2000s; or they released the DVD version of it during that time I’m not certain. I wanted to see if I liked this movie better than their new Easter movie. I also wanted to watch/review a few Easter based movies before the Resurrection Day Season ended. As you might have assumed already, An Easter Carol is an adaptation to the famous Charles Dickens tale: A Christmas Carol.

In this story, VeggieTales’ Mr. Nezzer is Ebenezer Nezzer the owner of an Easter Egg factory. Mr. Nezzer feels it would make his late grandmother happy and people in general would be happy if he constructed an Easter themed theme park; since Easter is all about the eggs and chocolates to him. The land he desires for this theme park is already occupied by a church and orphanage, but since he technically owns the land he wants them destroyed on Easter Sunday morning to make room for the theme park. When evening comes, the spirit of his grandmother warns him not to go through with the demolition and tells him an angel will appear to him three times to show him an Easter past, present, and yet to come. The angel Hope appears to him to show Mr. Nezzer the error of his ways.

Rebecca St. James, who plays the angel Hope, is fantastic in this movie. I loved her song, it was beautiful and it presents what the true meaning of Easter is supposed to be! (I actually cried a little when hearing it.) Like any other VeggieTales story, I felt An Easter Carol was well written, educational, and it will definitely entertain both parents and children. Granted the graphics aren’t as good as the newer VeggieTales movies, but this was one of their older films and I don’t believe that prevents a person from enjoying the story; there are horrible films out there with good graphics lol. I certainly liked both ‘Twas the Night Before Easter and An Easter Carol, but between the two of them I preferred watching An Easter Carol better.

TCP Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

God’s Promises Devotional Journal, arranged by Jack Countryman

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arranged by Jack Countryman

This isn’t technically a book, but since I’ve noticed there are many releases of various journals, Diaries, and notebooks I wanted to see if this journal would be useful. As I mentioned, I’ve seen several journals like from Harry Potter, Twilight,Veggie Tales, lol I’m surprised I haven’t seen a Sponge Bob journal yet. Of course this isn’t just some paper with a binding and a cartoon logo on the cover. This arrangement is a devotional journal where one can both ponder scripture and write down things at the same time. The God’s Promises Devotional Journal was arranged by Jack Countryman.

This journal has a page for every day of the year from January 1st until December 31st; although February 29th is not included… Everyday there is a passage of scripture at the top of the page. In the middle, there is also a quotation from a Christian pastor/author like Max Lucado, Sarah Young, Billy Graham, Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. David Jeremiah, Sheila Walsh, etc. At the bottom, there is a devotional question one can ponder after reading the verse and quotation. Obviously I did not ponder this for the entire year, but for the most part I liked what I had read. I feel the scripture, quotation, and devotional question fit together fine. However, as someone who likes to write, I was disappointed by the amount of space for some of the questions. For an example there is the June 29th question: ‘Do you believe in Satan, or is he a fictional character to you? If you believe in him, do you fear him, or do you trust in the power of Christ in your life?’. It is a great question along with a great passage of scripture and a great commentary by John Hagee, however the question is longer than the space they provide for you to answer! Otherwise this is a good devotional journal for anyone from teen to adult in my opinion.

Book Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: Ben Umnus was given a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishing, but he was neither paid for his review nor was he commanded by Thomas Nelson Publishing to write a positive review. This review is the personal, written opinion of Ben Umnus.  This disclaimer is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn

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by Randy Alcorn

A friend of mine, who I learned is an Atheist, once argued with me about suffering; more specifically viruses. I didn’t have the best explanation on everything he desired to talk to me about at the time, but then again only God will know the answer to every question out there. Thinking about that complicated conversation and being a bit depressed recently, I felt the whole idea of Good VS Evil and the concept of suffering itself were things I ought to brush up better apologetically. Because of my desire to learn more about those common occurrences, I picked up a copy of The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn. Although this book is only 117 pages, I feel it was a very good read and inspires me to read even more books concerning the common complaint “Why does God allow suffering?”

The Goodness of God, is quite philosophical and thought-provoking. Randy Alcorn examines various topics like Sin, alternative world views, free will, justice, global depravity, love, natural disasters, natural selection, death, etc through logical argumentation. While discussing the big picture which is morality (you know the idea of Good and Evil), he also plentifully provides many passages of scripture in support of a Good and loving God despite all of the suffering within our world. Obviously, this book won’t answer every thought or question a person may conceive, although even if this book were over 1000 pages it still wouldn’t… This is a great book nevertheless, because it will slice into a person’s mindset and will also inspire additional research/Biblical discussion. Surprisingly, I feel this book would be good for both Christians and Agnostics/Atheists alike.

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: Ben Umnus was given a free copy of this book by Waterbrook Multnomah Press, but he was neither paid for his review nor was he commanded by Waterbrook Multinomah Press to write a positive review. This review is the personal, written opinion of Ben Umnus.  This disclaimer is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”