The Resurrection of Gavin Stone – Movie Review

This is a surprisingly good movie. Are secular critics going to rave about how great it is? Of course not. It’s an obviously Christian movie. Christian movies are destined for a certain type of ending, especially a feel-good one with an unbeliever being the main character. Just by reading the summary of film, you can fairly accurately guess what is going to happen. But even though the overall plot is very predictable, they throw some creativity into the way things happen – it’s not all entirely predictable, so that’s a good thing.

The film is labelled as a comedy. Is it overly funny? No, not really. Lighthearted and feel-good with some humour, but I wouldn’t say funny enough to be labelled a comedy. I’m not being stuffy, there just aren’t even that many attempts to be real funny. The plot isn’t real intense or compelling. But the characters are lovable. The acting is good. The camera work is good. It doesn’t feel like a cheap cheesy film.

There is some humour that non-church people may not pick on. This was one of the things I enjoyed most about the film, how they took very Christian/Churchie (in a bad way) things and exposed them without being sacrilegious, judgemental or condescending.

Overall, it’s a worthwhile film for Christians to watch. You’ll laugh a little bit, you’ll enjoy seeing the transformation of Gavin Stone. Will it change your life? I wouldn’t guarantee it, but you should leave being reminded of what Jesus can do in a life, and how God can work in ways we wouldn’t expect.

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

Movie has been provided courtesy of Mongrel Media and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone – Movie Review

Book Review – Dairy of a Jackwagon (Tim Hawkins)

Dairy of a Jackwagon is a great read if you love sarcastic humour – this book is full of it. You will also likely find this book funnier if you have seen Tim performing. If you can get a visual of Tim telling the joke and what expressions he might be using I think you’ll be more likely to find the jokes funny.

I’m not overly familiar with Tim Hawkins, although I have seen many of his videos. I definitely recognized some of the jokes, so if you’ve seen every Hawkins video out there you will probably run into a ton of duplicate content.

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Tim’s humour is clean, and with typical funnyman creativity that makes you (or at least me) curious as to what all goes through his head throughout a day. He has a gift at seeing the funny in the everyday things. He also has some good insights into Christianity and Christians, although they definitely don’t feel like the focus of the book, and even when they are there Tim isn’t forceful about it. It’s a very light read. You can definitely read this book in small chunks and be able to pick it up much later without really missing anything as the book doesn’t have an underlying plot – it moves around from topic to topic.

There are definitely some great humour in here, I tried reading this in bed one night, it did not help me fall asleep, I was laughing out loud. While not all the book is over the top funny there were numerous jokes that had me LOL’ing and I just had to share with my wife.

As others have said, video or live is the preferred method of experiencing Tim Hawkins, but the book is still a great experience for readers with a sarcastic sense of humour, or die hard fans. There is also a audiobook version of this book, read by Tim himself. I haven’t heard it, but I’m sure that’d be fantastic.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book courtesy of Booklook Bloggers and the publisher.

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

Book Review – Dairy of a Jackwagon (Tim Hawkins)

Jesus is Greater Than Religion – Jefferson Bethke | Book Review

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to Jefferson Bethke the last year or so. Having a few years on his 23, I’m blown away by the man of God he is and by what he’s already accomplished at his young age. He is cranking out a lot of great content. He’s relevant. He knows how to connect with his culture and generation. He’s artistic. He does what he does well: very well. He’s got a lot of insight. Sometimes people like this end up turning you off and leaving you bummed out by just how good they seem. How can you be so courageous?How can you read so many books? How can you be influencing so many people?

Enter Jesus > Religion. You soon realize Jeff’s entire life isn’t filled with sainthood. Throughout the book Jeff shares his story. It’s honest, raw, and at times very dark. And yet it’s a beacon brightly blazing on Jesus. As we often hear, the one thing people can’t argue is our personal testimony. What I love about this book is that Jeff has been through the motions of trying to be good, of trying to find fulfilment in sin, and ultimately being captured by grace. It might be easy to roll your eyes at a cute, rich pastor’s kid raving about how great God is – but Jeff’s story is hard to argue with. It’s not pretty, but it’s glorious.

Jesus Is Greater

I’m not going to go over every chapter, since you should read the book yourself. The title tips you off on the angle of the book. Here are a few things that stuck out to me that I wanted to mention about this book.

#1 The book addresses the topic of sin head-on

In Jeff’s words:

God doesn’t hide sin. In fact he put it on display two thousand years ago in a splintered T-shaped piece of wood. Jesus came down to earth, live the perfect life we never could have, and died the death we should have. And every drop of blood that poured from him was another drop of love falling on us.”

He took your shame. He took your sin. He took your filth so that God could be both just and justifier of those who put their trust in Jesus. He doesn’t just let you off the hook; he put Jesus on the hook for you. Stop working to do something Jesus has already done. It is finished. If you trust him, your faith is counted as righteousness.”

#2 Jesus deserves more glory than we’re inclined to think

God should get a lot more glory for things than we give him. If we only give God glory for explicitly Christian things, we are thieves. He wants all the glory. When we bite into food, we are to let him know how awesome he is for making food. When we listen to great music, we are to do the same. When we don’t we are stealing. There is glory God deserves that he is not being given.”

#3 We can be who God created us to be.

I love that God made us different, to do different things, to be different parts of the body. But that’s hard to accept sometimes, so I’m glad for the reminder Jeff gives us. In my own words, when Jeff became a Christian he quit the baseball time to study the Bible. He felt he needed to go to seminary – become a pastor or a theologian, because that’s what great Christians did, so he thought. Looking back, he realizes that he wouldn’t have enjoyed or been very good at that. Now, instead of studying how to parse Greek verbs he’s making a huge impact doing what God created him to do, making amazing Youtube videos that are reaching millions of people. How cool is that?

#4 Christians should be great at creating

He hammers on music, but the spectrum is even bigger than what we think of as art. While we’re not all overly ‘artistic’, we shouldn’t always be lagging 10 years behind our culture. As he says:

The problem with trying to be relevant is it makes us copy what culture is already doing. To be relevant, you have to copy what is cool. So we put our mouths on the tailpipe of secular culture in hopes we can recycle some of it and use it for ourselves.”

Jeff’s story is a testament to the fact that God can use you and your gifts for his glory – whatever they are. He’s using social media well. He’s helping make Jesus famous. He’s a modern day missionary.

#5 Jesus Rules.

Really, there’s nothing better.

In conclusion: this is a great, easy read. Instead of trying to amaze us with the knowledge he’s accumulated from a lot of study, or how he managed to get millions of Youtube views, he brings us to Jesus – the real Jesus. This is a book of great news for sinners and saints alike. Love it.

I received a review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher.

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

Jesus is Greater Than Religion – Jefferson Bethke | Book Review

The Christian Mama’s Guide to Baby’s First Year

Guest Review by my Favourite Woman 🙂

4/5 Paper Movement Stars

The Christian Mama’s Guide to Baby’s First Year is both humorous and educational and I found it to be an enjoyable and easy read. Erin does an excellent job of giving advice in an entertaining way. She reminds her readers often that she is not a medical professional, and that her advice is based on her own experiences. She presents her opinions, but leaves room for mothers to make choices based on what is best for them and their child.

While this may not be the only book you will want to read about “Baby’s First Year”, she offers practical insights on topics every new mother is wondering about, like feeding, mental health, medical help, and she also includes a chapter for Fathers.

This book is not about all of a baby’s milestones, and what to expect as far as their development. It is more about you as a mother, and the practical things you may be needing to hear from another mother who has been there and experienced the chaos of motherhood. Erin writes as a friend would.

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I would recommend this book to any new mother. It is well written, interesting, quite informative, funny, and is broken into nice short sections so that a new mother can read small sections at a time between caring for her infant.

The one complaint I have about the book is the physical book itself – the cover got a major curl happening both on the front and back, seemingly on its own.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book courtesy of Booksneeze.com.   

The Christian Mama’s Guide to Baby’s First Year

Did the Devil Make Me Do It? Book Review

Great information, fair presentation.

3/5 Paper Movement Stars

Starting with the good – the information: To me it felt like ‘middle of the road’ – safe and biblical. He sticks with what the Bible says. This isn’t a nutjob work on the devil by someone who’s infatuated with him and has all kinds of crazy notions. As I read it I generally found myself agreeing with what I was reading. The book is clear and easy to understand.

Presentation-wise it where the book loses 2 stars. First of all – the cover. Ugh. Clipart?! This isn’t 1980. A professional design would help that first impression. Secondly, the book lays out the facts, with the odd illustration stuck in here in there. It just didn’t feel very natural to me.It’s like every now and than Mike realizes he’s been giving a lot of information and it’s time to make us realize that this isn’t a textbook. Than it’s promptly back to the information.

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Once again, the information in the book is good, and I’d recommend it for those who are confused about the devil. It’s short enough that getting through it isn’t much of a drag. It could just use a bit more ‘artist’ to it to be called a great book.

I received a complementary review copy of this book courtesy of Cross Focused Media and the publisher.

Did the Devil Make Me Do It? Book Review

A Wake Up Call to the Price of Ignorance – A Gem of a Book on Child Raising

The Christian Parenting Handbook
Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

Why is this book receiving glowing reviews?

Here, in my opinion, is why:

1. It makes sense. The point that they hammer on over and over and over again is that you’re after a change in the child’s heart – not mere behavior modification. Not only do they drill this into your head repeatedly, they give you ideas on how to actually go about doing this, or at least setting up your child’s heart for change. This is so huge.

2. It’s readable and to the point. The chapters are short, about 3.5 pages each. You don’t get the impression that these are arrogant, childless, self-proclamed and idealistic parenting experts.

3. It’s insightful. Man! Ok, this is coming from a dude with his first kid on the way, but I’m sure that a lot of the things in here I would have never have thought of on my own. This is a book I’m quite sure I’ll be revisiting from time to time as my children grow up. There is just so much in here that you can benefit from profusely just by being aware of what your reactions etc are doing/not doing. Take a moment and look over the chapter titles carefully. The chapter titles alone, if looked at carefully have the potential to open your eyes to some things you may never have thought of, or at least until it was a bit late in the game.

4. It’s attention grabbing because it’s so relevant, practical, and down to earth. They can help you with all your children, since they’ll all be different and often need different training methods. Your kids are born little sinners, and you aren’t sinless yourself. It wakes you up to the price of ignorance.

5. It’s Biblically sound. The authors recognize that ultimately God changes people, not us. That is good news!

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What arced my eyebrows? The chapter on spanking, of course! If you lean towards a spanking fixes all world problems, check it out. If you say spanking is evil and ruins children, check it out. The idea I garnered from this chapter is that spanking is a tool in your tool chest, not THE tool. Psst… apparently Proverbs talks about using the rod of discipline on a child 5 times, but also using a rod on adults 3 times. Can’t recall a sermon on that one lately, can you?

How to read this book: slowly. I barreled through it since I’m a book reviewer, but ideally I’d recommend reading just a chapter a day or so. That’s only a couple minutes of your time, literally. In fact, barreling through it was kind of tough for me because the book doesn’t have much flow since you get 3.5 pages on an idea than boom, on to the next topic so you’re constantly stopping and starting. Also, it can border on overwhelming if you try and bite off too much because chances are you might get bogged down at all the stuff to be aware of and do right. If you just fill yourself with 50 big ideas in one sitting your head might pop. Thankfully the authors recognize and identify many of the struggles parents go through, and will encourage/help you, even though you’ll never be the perfect parent, and thats ok. Here’s what they say:

“One of the reasons God gave imperfect parents to kids is so we would all long for the perfect Parent. Isn’t it interesting that God has chosen the picture of the family to describe the kind of relationship he wants to have with us? He wants to become our heavenly Father. In fact, that’s the most important element in a biblical parenting philosophy that anyone could embrace.”

Recommended? Very much. Go get it!

5/5 Paper Movement Stars

I received a free review copy of this book courtesy of Booksneeze.com and the publisher, Thomas Nelson.

A Wake Up Call to the Price of Ignorance – A Gem of a Book on Child Raising

Communicating for a Change (Andy Stanley and Lane Jones) Book Review

3/5 Paper Movement Stars

Loved it but….

I really enjoyed this book. Yes, the first half of the book is a fictional story about a pastor getting insights from a trucker. Was it a little far-fetched? Ya, probably. Did I enjoy the story and learn from it? Absolutely.

This is a book written to help communicators learn how to say things in a way that will stick with their audience. The book is geared towards Christian leaders, and that’s where I feel what Andy has to say falls a little short.

In terms of communication in and of itself, Andy’s passion for one big idea with each talk seems excellent. It’s effective. It works. It makes sense. He unpacks the concepts he sets up with his story in the first, fictional half of the book very well. His book has one big point. Have one point.

So if I loved the book, why only 3 stars? If this were a general book on effective communication I’d give it 5 stars. It’s full of great human wisdom. He’s a smart man. However, Andy is targeting Christian leaders, and Christianity is about Jesus.

Church is about Jesus. Preaching is about Jesus. We exist to glorify Jesus. Although Andy wants to see people learn the Bible, as far as I could tell he neglected to tell us that the only way to have true, lasting impact on people – point them to Jesus.

There’s lots of great tips on motivating people, and even driving home a Biblical truth, but a one-point message that’s clear as a bell that forgets to talk about Jesus falls short.

There were 3 other concerns with this book.

#1, his statement about removing from circulation a message on homosexuality he preached when he was a young preacher. I’m not exactly sure why he did this, or what he said in it, and if he’s just trying to be seeker friendly.

#2, he references Rob Bell a couple times as a Christian pastor. From a biblical standpoint the little I’ve heard of Bell shows quite clearly that he’s strayed far from orthodoxy. He’s for fidelity in marriage, whether it’s man-woman, man-man, women-woman? Love wins and hell might not be real? While Bell may be an extremely gifted communicator that people can learn from, Stanley goes so far as to call him someone committed to Biblical truth. That is a scary statement to hear,

#3  Was Jesus not the greatest communicator we’ll ever know? Look at what he did. Some Bible verses would seem fitting coming from a Christian- to Christians. There’s not much (any?) Bible verses in this book!

So go ahead, read the book and learn. You will learn, you will be challenged. But don’t forget it’s about Jesus, not your brainy idea that you drive home so skillfully.

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I received a free audiobook of this book for review purposes from christianaudio.com

Communicating for a Change (Andy Stanley and Lane Jones) Book Review