Review: Body by God: The Owner’s Manual for Maximized Living

Body by God: The Owner's Manual for Maximized Living
Body by God: The Owner’s Manual for Maximized Living by Ben Lerner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Body by Bod” was my first introduction to applying faith to physical exercise and nutrition. Before then, I always considered these faith and physical exercise separate. In “Body by God”, Dr. Ben Lerner argues that getting fit should be part of faith.

In a nutshell, Dr. Lerner argues that a lot of modern life (fast food, no exercise, stress) has deviated from the way humans were created to live. He advises readers to get back to cooking and eating natural foods, exercise, and spend time developing their relationships between themselves, their families, and God.

Pros:
1. Very inspiring simple message aimed at people of faith.
2. The exercise program is easy to follow along with. Exercises are bodyweight and require only a dumbbell, mat, and pull-up bar.
3. Innovative approach to stress and time management
4. Outline of 40-day plan for greater success & health

Cons:
1. Eating plan. At first look, the “Un-Diet” was confusing. The “Un-Diet” is Dr. Lerner’s guide to transition from eating the Standard American Diet to a better one. Dr. Lerner provides a few examples of what should be eaten at meals, but memorizing that plan is difficult.

Overall
If you are someone who wants to approach their health, holistically, from a faith perspective. Dr. Ben Lerner wants people to be fit, not for a fad, but because being the best you is a part of your faith and spiritual journey.

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Review: The First Judgement

The First Judgement
The First Judgement by Wendy Alec
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary: “The First Judgement” continues the story of Heaven, Hell, and all of the beings in between. In this second installment, readers follow the Messiah’s birth, life, and crucifixion from an angelic point of view in one story thread. In another story thread, a royal Arabian family finds their lives intertwined with a Hebrew prophet who is unlike any person they have ever met. In yet another story thread, the de Vere family is a filthy rich family that is growing in power, money,….and family problems.

Pros:
1. Excellent plot development. Wendy Alec is able to successfully interweave 3 stories in excellent fashion that infuses this often-told story of good versus evil with enthusiasm. In other words, even though I knew what was going to happen (good would win), I wanted to read HOW the good would win. Alec maintains all of the characters from [b:The Fall of Lucifer|328787|The Fall of Lucifer (Chronicles of Brothers, #1)|Wendy Alec|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388734076s/328787.jpg|319409], but gives them more depth and more investment into the story. (Read “The Fall of Lucifer” first, if you haven’t read this book).

2. Excellent characters. “The First Judgement” uses a lot of angels and other-worldly beings who are often treated as passive agents of divine will. in “The First Judgement”, this isn’t the case. The angels are given a great deal of emotional depth without losing face. The human characters (Zahi, Jotapa,Aretas, and more) all display consistent but strong personalities which help add more layers to the story.

3. Action-packed. This book features more action than the first book in the series.

Cons
There really wasn’t a bad thing, but I do want to note one thing”
1. Creative license- “The First Judgement”, follows the Gospel narrative pretty well with some exceptions. One example, Jesus appears to Jotapa, an Arabian princess, upon rising from death. The disciples are only briefly mentioned and there is no mention of the Last Supper. What is mentioned is the trial with Pontius Pilate (only the final judgement), Judas’ betrayal, and Lucifer being bound.

If you are a fan of Christian fiction who is open to reading about battles between angels, the historical Jesus, and more, this is definitely a series to consider. I love the series and have read the first book twice. I now have read this book twice and plan to read the next one in the series as soon as I can get my hands on it!

Notes:
1. You need to be familiar with the basics of Christian belief in order to fully understand the book. The book is compelling enough without that foundation, but you will have a deeper experience if you do.

2. The De Vere family doesn’t appear a lot in the book. The chief focus is on setting up the major Heavenly players for the battle that begins in [b:Son of Perdition|6871031|Son of Perdition (Chronicles of Brothers, #3)|Wendy Alec|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1412197878s/6871031.jpg|7087223].

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Review: A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted

A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted
A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted by Will Bowen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary: “A Complaint Free World” describes the origins and growth of the 21-Day Challenge, a challenge where participants are asked not to complain, gossip, or criticize for 21 consecutive days. To monitor their compliance, readers are asked to switch a purple wristband from one wrist to the other every time they complain, gossip, or criticize. Bowen divides the book into 4 sections based on the reader’s expected results at each progressive stage. Throughout the book, Bowen provides stories (from his life and others) that demonstrate the impact the 21-Day Challenge has had on their lives.

Pros:
1. Easy read. The book is written in simple, but powerfully inspiring language coupled with realistic stories from everyday people.

2. Practical. This book is more than just “Believe it and it will come to you” fluff. There are stories of suffering (one example is when the author’s pet was hit by an irresponsible driver), failure, and even death. There are also stories of love, inspiration, and pure joy. The advice is centered around real-life

3. Inspiration. Bowen is an excellent storyteller and weaves personal anecdotes along with other 21-day challenge participants into an inspirational tapestry. In my head, it’s akin to [a:Andy Andrews|31934|Andy Andrews|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1366231150p2/31934.jpg] or Stephen Covey in style.

Cons
1. Clarity on Concepts. While Bowen attempts to define the key concepts central to the book-gossip, complaints, etc. this definition wasn’t enough. I needed a few more examples.

2. Group Application. The book emphasizes group participation, but doesn’t have a lot of info on how groups should manage the challenge, other than to get started.

Comments:
1. You don’t have to get a purple wristband from acomplaintfreeworld.org, although it is encouraged. Bowen says you can just use a rubber band or even a coin. The idea is to have something you consistently use.

2. The book is best if you are going along with the 21-Day Challenge. You can read the book or read it as you or as you enter the stages outlined in the book.

3. Bracelets are free, but shipping (10 in a pack) is $10.00.

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Listen to Prince’s New Protest Song ‘Baltimore’

Originally posted on TIME:

Prince released his protest song “Baltimore” on SoundCloud Saturday ahead of the Rally 4 Peace concert Sunday at the city’s Royal Farms Arena.

As a spokesperson for the pop star said earlier this week, the track is about “the unrest in Baltimore and the socio/political issues around the country in the wake of a slew of killings of young black men.”

He recorded it at his Paisley Park studio near Minneapolis.

Sample lyrics:

Does anybody hear us pray for Michael Brown and Freddie Gray?

Peace is more than the absence of war

Are we gonna see another bloody day?

We’re tired of crying and people dying

Let’s take all the guns away.

(h/t Billboard)

[time-brightcove videoid=3740880634001]

[time-gallery id=”3841077″]

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Review: Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet

Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet
Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading [b:The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam|527090|The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam|Yahiya Emerick|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1387718107s/527090.jpg|514873], I realized how little I actually knew about Islam and Muhammad. Basically, all I knew before that book was the 5 Pillars and whatever images the media threw my way.

Encouraged by that book, I wanted to read more about the prophet in Islam, Muhammad, and chose Karen Armstrong’s book to do. Armstrong is a noted writer who provides interesting perspectives on Biblical features and people that most people of faith can take for granted (Abraham, creation) because we think we know all that there is to know.

Karen did not disappoint.

She began with a rather stinging critique of the West’s interaction with Islam. Armstrong says that from the beginning, Christianity (with very few exceptions), has fought against Islam with slanders of lust, manipulation, and perversion. Armstrong uses the rest of the book to battle against these deceptions and attempts to provide a multifaceted view of Islam and its origins.

Armstrong in fact, goes to great length, to combat several misconceptions about Islam including its purported subjugation of women, Muhammad’s wives,fundamentalism and the approach to war. Her point is to show that Islam needs to be understood in its context. Like all world-changing religions, Islam faced a lot of the same problems that early Christianity did in becoming a world religion (persecution, division, misinterpretation). In all of this, Armstrong unfolds the whole thing like a novel rather than a boring textbook.

She concludes this book by focusing on the achievement of Muhammad to create a religion that focused unswervingly on the “oneness” of God and submission to Him. She argues that the current “battle’ between Islam and the Western World is built on centuries-old misunderstanding and hate coupled with a fervent desire to return back to the “roots of Islam” in a world that is rapidly changing. For most, this is call for reform. For a few, this is a call for violence.

This book is best suited for readers who want to learn more about Islam’s origins within its cultural context rather than a dry textbook reading or an over-biased book. There are a few sections where Armstrong veers off into boring historical dialogue. Overall, though, it was an engaging book which helped me gain a better understanding of Islam in the past and the present.

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Upcoming Review List- – May 2015

Here is an updated list of the books I plan to read over the next few weeks:

  1. A Complaint Free World
  2. The Future of God
  3. Coffee Shop Conversations
  4. Flesh Without Soul
  5. Between the Dream
  6. Writers of the Future
  7. A Matter of Days
  8. Wake Up to Your LIfe
  9. You Can Begin Again
  10. God Never Laughed
  11. Sky Ghosts
  12. God Never Laughed
  13. The Fransican
  14. The Messiah Matrix
  15. Daimones
  16. THe First Chronicles of Moonshine Wizard
  17. God is Able
  18. Aesop’s Keys
  19. Your Life Still Counts
  20. Business of Winning
  21. Tough Man, Tender Chicken
  22. Chittagong Poems
  23. All Groan Up
  24. Thoughts of a Fractured Soul
  25. Content Warfare
  26. Let it Go
  27. The Practice of Natural Movement
  28. Defending Beef
  29. The Human Quest
  30. Buddhist Boot Camp

* This list is subject to change.

Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam by Yahiya Emerick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam” actually turned out to be more in-depth than I expected to be. I expected a book that would reinforce what I knew about Islam: 5 Pillars, caliphate, etc. Instead Yahiya Emerick took a very unique approach. He begins with a defense of Islam and a call for greater understanding of the religion by non-Muslims. He continues from there, on an unexpected path, through the Garden of Eden. Emerick provides detail on how Muslims view God, Heaven vs Hell, good vs evil, etc. and how all of this ties into a Muslim’s daily life. The book presented a much more comprehensive look at Islam than I expected.

Great introduction for someone who wants to know the Islamic perspective on faith, morality, and history in a user-friendly and engaging manner.

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