New Book: Create vs. Copy

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible for your brain to explode with all the thoughts you have swirling around in there? Between to-do lists, grocery lists, work calendars, personal calendars, church calendars, domestic duties, monitoring social media notifications, emails, texts, don’t you sometimes want to turn it all off, sit in a big comfy chair with a steaming hot cup of coffee in absolutely silence? I certainly do!

As a wife, a mom of a hilarious and very active 2 year old boy, a full-time working professional in a demanding and fast-paced industry, an active participant in my local church and a friend to others, I often get the feeling I’m coming up short, falling behind and totally unprepared for all I have before me.

The Religion of Star Wars

The following is an excerpt from an excellent article by Peter Jones, executive director of truthXchange, a ministry that exists to recognize and respond to the rising tide of neopaganism. Click here for the full article.

With the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, those who believe in the one true God have an opportunity to engage the culture with the truth about the timeless spiritual struggle that exists in the world.

I believe there are good reasons for viewing this film. We can certainly respect its artistic and entertainment value. Galactic battle scenes and human drama are entertaining. But also, by seeing this movie, Christians can sharpen their understanding of both contemporary culture and their appreciation of the Christian faith, allowing them to see in antithetical clarity both the Christian message and the message of Star Wars in order to present the gospel in a fresh way for our time.

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In the Heart of the Sea

Oscar winner Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”) directs the action adventure “In the Heart of the Sea,” based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s best-selling book about the dramatic true journey of the Essex.

In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby- Dick. But that told only half the story. “In the Heart of the Sea” reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.

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Glory Days: Q&A with Max Lucado

“Glory Days” is Max Lucado’s newest work and follows Israel’s move from the wilderness into the Promised Land. Using the book of Joshua, Lucado shows the successful leadership of Joshua and how we can apply the Israelite’s wilderness journey to help us enter our own Promised Land and the glory days God has for us now.

Q: First off, tell us what you mean by "glory days."

It’s a reference to the Glory Days of Israel. On the time line of your Bible, it’s a seven year era that glistens between the difficult days of Exodus and the dark age of the judges. Moses had just died, and the Hebrews were beginning their fifth decade as Bedouin in the badlands. And sometime around 1400 BC, God spoke, Joshua listened, and the Glory Days began. The Jordan River opened up. The Jericho walls fell down. The sun stood still, and the kings of Canaan were forced into early retirement. Evil was booted and hope rebooted. By the end of the campaign, the homeless wanderers became hope-filled homesteaders. A nation of shepherds began to quarry a future out of the Canaanite hills. They built farms, villages, and vineyards. The accomplishments were massive. 

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The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard

I’ve always been a pen and paper kind of writer. I buy yellow pads by the box and black gel pens 24 at a time at Costco. Whether I’m working on a book or a blog, my ideas and first drafts go from pen to pad. I don’t use a keyboard until I’m on my way to a final draft.

I use to think I was an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy using old school tools, while cooler and hipper writers used keyboards and touch pads to create books and such from start to finish.  Then I ran across some research that suggests ideas flow better and your ability to retain content improves when you write the old fashioned way.

That’s not to say someone with terrible ideas can come up with great ones when they write with a pen and paper. But if you have great ideas to begin and want to express them in the best way possible, you’ll struggle more if you use a keyboard exclusively.

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God's Not Dead 2

(Los Angeles, CA) Pure Flix, the largest independent faith film studio, just wrapped production for God’s Not Dead 2: He’s Surely Alive. This film is the highly anticipated follow-up to the immensely successful God’s Not Dead, which grossed over $60 million last year at the box office. God’s Not Dead 2 features a star-studded cast that includes: Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey), Jesse Metcalfe (Dallas), David A. R. White (God’s Not Dead), Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Sadie Robertson (Duck Dynasty), Robin Givens (Head of The Class), Fred Thompson (Law & Order), Maria Canals-Barrera (Cristela), with Pat Boone and Ray Wise (Robocop).

Other returning cast favorites include: Trisha LaFache (Amy Ryan), Benjamin Onyango (Reverend Jude), Paul Kwo (Martin Yip), and Newsboys (Michael Tait, Duncan Phillips, Jeff Frankenstein, and Jody Davis).
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Lee Strobel on Grace (Part 2)

The Case for Grace Is bestselling author Lee Strobel's most personal and, arguably, his most powerful book to date. In it he shares his personal transformation alongside seven real-life tales of men and women whose lives have been transformed by God's grace.

In a telephone interview with the editors of ConversantLife.com, Lee shared how the stories he chose for the book reflect his own lifelong quest for grace.

Did your own experiences with God’s grace help you choose the kind of people you wanted to interview, so you could show the different shades of grace?

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How to Write a Christian Bestseller

Attention all writers and aspiring writers of Christian books. You now have a sure-fire template for crafting a bestseller. The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association just announced the top selling Christian books of 2014, so all you have to do is write a book that follows the success pattern of the 25 titles on this list.

First some general observations about the authors on the list;

  • 5 of the books are Jesus Calling. Actually, there’s only one original Jesus Calling by Sarah Young on the list (it happens to be number one), but there are four other books spun off from the original (publishers call these derivatives).
  • 5 of the books are about going to heaven and coming back, or about how soon the rest of us are going to heaven based on “prophetic” events.
  • 4 of the books are by those Duck Dynasty people (I guess you could call it a Duck Dynasty dynasty).
  • 9 of the books were written by authors who have already written bestsellers.
  • 1 of the books is by the president of the publishing arm of the world’s largest church denomination.
  • 1 of the books is by an author nobody heard of before he wrote this book.
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Unbroken film review

In the opening shot of Unbroken, Roger Deakins camera pans across a beautiful open sky, finally landing itself into one of the approaching warplanes.  In the tight space of the plane, where every incoming bullet is a few inches away from every crew member, Louis Zamperini and his crew are carrying out a harrowing mission from the sky.  The scene (as with the other plane scenes) is shot perfectly – it is tense, the sound mix is perfect, and the general sense of dread is enhanced by the claustrophobia.  In this opening sequence, Angelina Jolie’s reverent interpretation of the story of Louis Zamperini’s life begins, taking us into the too wild to believe true story of Louis Zamperini. 

This includes being stranded at sea, POW camps, and Olympic dreams.  Those who read the book know what to expect.  As for the rest of us – it’s best to just sit back and watch as spoiler free as possible.  The film documents Zamperini’s incredible life, ending with an emotional punch that reserves itself from the rest of the film.  Between there and the beginning, Unbroken (which credits Joel and Ethan Coen as 2 of the film’s 4 screenwriters) bounces between multiple parts of Zamperini’s life, as though we are skipping from chapter 2 to chapter 7 to chapter 3 – and it mostly works.  The timeline comes to a halt and the majority of the last half is spent in the Japanese POW Camp where Zamperini faces off against notorious Camp general, The Bird (played with a bratty menace here by Takamasa Ishihara).

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Exodus: God's and Kings

The following review by Brett McCracken originally appeared in Christianity Today online.

Ridley Scott’s version of the Exodus story focuses on the tenuous relationship/rivalry between Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton). Raised as brothers and princes of Egypt in the palace of Pharaoh senior (John Turturro), the two spend most of the movie opposing each other in a (quite literally) cutthroat manner.

The relationship reminded me a bit of the dynamic between Christian filmgoers and “secular” Hollywood films, like Exodus, which attempt to adapt the Bible. The Christian filmgoers are a bit like Ramses: hardhearted, skeptical and maybe a bit jealous, looking for every reason to punish the secular outsider who has the nerve to tell a story that isn’t theirs. I’m not saying Ridley Scott is Moses, mind you; just that Christian audiences can sometimes act like Ramses: stubborn, grumpy, vengeful, close-minded and unwilling to listen to someone they’ve already decided is an enemy.

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