Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Guest Review of The Shack

Title:  The Shack

Author:  Wm. Paul Young                                                                           

Pages:  272

Year:  2007

Publisher:  Hachette-Windblown Media

The Shack, a novel by Wm. Paul Young, is a story about Mack, a man who is suffering over the loss of his youngest daughter and the guilt that haunts him. Apparently, God has invited Mack to the very place where his daughter died a tragic death. Mack wonders if the invitation is a cruel joke or if God really did send the invitation. Mack cautiously accepts, and heads into the woods where the shack is located, and he finds a world that is both familiar and, at the same time, strange.

Essentially, Mack has an encounter with God, who manifests as a theophany of three individuals. There have been some books and reviews written that question the theology portrayed in the novel; however, the focus of the story is not on theology. The focus is on relationship between God and one particular man who needs his soul to be healed from guilt and loss. Some might find it blasphemous that God the Father, known informally in the story as Papa, appears as a woman. The dialogue clearly states that God is neither male nor female, and Papa appears to Mack as a woman because that is more comforting to Mack and what he is going through. In addition, the story alludes to Mack having a very broken relationship with his earthly father, so it makes sense that God would appear as a women to help Mack feel more comfortable. Papa later appears as an elderly man because at the time, Mack needs a father figure. Jesus appears as authentically Jewish in appearance, and the Holy Spirit appears as a female who seems to flutter around just as the wind would do. This appearance is also consistent with the Spirit being compared to the wind. Although there is much speculation on how God might appear physically and communicate to a human being in this tale, I don’t see any contradiction to how he has revealed himself in Scripture, which must be the standard that we judge theological positions. Critics also need to remember that this is a work of fiction and not a theological dissertation.

Overall, The Shack is a wonderful story of God’s loving relationship within the three persons of the Trinity as well as love for individuals. The story’s focus on relationship, love, loss, grief, forgiveness, brokenness, and healing make this novel one of the best Christian novels that I have read in several months. I highly recommend the book, and I look forward to seeing the movie.

My rating is 5.

Guest review by Cleve Johnson

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter@lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Romans 9 study @ 7pm EST

Legacy of Deer Run

Title:  Legacy of Deer Run

Author:  Elaine Marie Cooper

Pages:  277

Year:  2012, 2016

Publisher:  CrossRiver

My rating is 4 stars.

This is the third and final book in the Deer Run Series.  This story centers on Daniel Lowe, Sr., his son Daniel Lowe, Jr. and his daughter Polly Lowe.  There are some other minor storylines as well, but these three are the main ones.  The year is 1800, and there is still fear that England will retaliate for their loss in 1776, so the armory in Springfield, Massachusetts is operating at full capacity.  There is also a shaky relationship with France to take into consideration as well.

Dan Jr. or Danny has left Deer Run to work in the armory in Springfield.  He overhears two men talking in what he thinks is French, so he reports this to his supervisor.  Unfortunately, it is dark outside when he makes this discovery and that conceals the identity of the two men.  Soon after accidents begin happening, putting Dan Jr. in the line of fire.  He also has made the acquaintance of the lovely Susannah Dobbins, who is the daughter of a local merchant newly moved to the area.  Dan Jr. doesn’t think she will take a second look at him due to their differences in social status.

Polly Lowe has fallen in love.  Unfortunately, the man is the son of her father’s bitter enemy and her father forbids her from continuing the relationship.  She rebels, but soon the man leaves the area, taking Polly’s heart along with him and leaving Polly in dire straits.  Dan Sr. is convicted of his bitterness and begs forgiveness from his enemy and his daughter.  However, Polly’s situation causes a rift in the community and her heart still longs for her love.  Dan Jr. has an idea to solve the situation, so his plan is put into action.  But has his plan, if successful, been implemented too late?

There were a couple of instances that were a little too “earthy”, as the author calls some of the more physical aspects of the story, for me, but otherwise I enjoyed the story.  I liked reading about this time in history and how the people dressed, talked, worked and survived in a sometimes very harsh environment with not many, if any, conveniences.  They had to work very hard every day.  I know I would not have made a good colonial woman!  I treasured the respect and protectiveness the men had for the women in their lives.  I also liked the big families in the story and how they managed and interacted with one another.  I hope Ms. Cooper continues to write books set in this time period as I will be sure to read them!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Her Secret (The Amish of Hart County #1)

Title:  Her Secret (The Amish of Hart County #1)

Author:  Shelley Shepard Gray

Pages:  272

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Avon Inspire

My rating is 4 stars.

Hannah Hilty is a 20-year-old Amish woman who is the victim of a stalker.  She and her family are forced to quit their jobs, leave their friends and move to a different state and different Amish community to flee this stalker.  The local police were not too responsive to the Hilty family’s reporting of the stalker, so no legal action was taken.  Hannah is now afraid to leave her new home.  Her two younger, teenage siblings blame Hannah for making them move and leave all their friends.  Hannah’s mother is forced to take a job outside the home and they are now living in a much smaller house.  The whole family is in upheaval.  This family secret is kept from the new Amish community, and there are other secrets the Hilty family is keeping as well.

Isaac Troyer is unsure what to think of his new neighbors, the Hiltys.  Their oldest daughter never leaves home alone and then very rarely.  He jokingly calls her The Recluse.  He is a 22-year-old Amish man who works in the family woodshop.  He runs into Hannah one day while she has bravely decided to take a walk alone.  The impression he makes on her he knows is unfavorable.  A couple of days later he apologizes as well as lets her know that he knows her stalker history.  The begin to form a tentative friendship.  Isaac feels protective of Hannah and senses her fear of trusting others.  Hannah feels safe with Isaac and begins to live again.  However, her newfound freedom is threatened by her sister who unknowingly tells Hannah’s secret to the wrong person.

I thought this was a good story to introduce the series and it kept me flipping pages quickly.  The story is easy to read and I read it in one sitting.  The romance between these two young Amish people is gentle, slow and tender.  The mystery/thriller aspect of the story set in Amish country is a new twist for me and I liked that aspect especially.  Readers can see the multiple secrets the Hilty family keeps from each other that create much dissension and disunity within the family, which added realism to the story.  I’m looking forward to book two in the series and to what mystery the author will weave into the tale!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”