Book Review: The Gospel Story Bible

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments

By: Marty Machowk, Illustrated by: A. E. Macha

New Growth Press, 2007 Yanceyville Street, Suite 3600, Greensboro, NC 27405

978-1936768127328, $ 29.99, 2011, 328 pages, Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Bedtime Stories that Can Change a Child’s Life

“The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments” is designed for use with preschoolers as a story book and as a devotional guide for young grade school students  The book can be used for home family applications or in the classroom as a curriculum resource . As you read and share these stories with your children you will be pleased to note the way they serve as a refresher to your own spiritual and devotional life.

The colorful dramatic illustrations drawn by A. E. Macha bring the stories to life. The accompanying questions in the “Let’s Talk about It” section are carefully designed for engaging interaction with your child.

The author carefully includes God’s plan of salvation in Christ throughout the narrative. Machowski’s narrative is child friendly, readable, understandable, ideal for age graded Bible exploration, and life changing application, designed to reach a new generation with the truths of the Gospel. The 156 chapters chronicle the key events of the Old and New Testaments. The scriptures quoted are based on the text of the Standard English Bible.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. I add my recommendation to the list of recognized church leaders who have already highly endorsed “The Gospel Story Bible.”

As Reviewed for Midwest Book Review

Book Review: Princess Warriors: Engaging Spiritaul Warfare

Princess Warriors: Engaging Spiritual Warfare

By: Robin Kirby-Gatto

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310

978-0768437393, $ 16.99, 2011, 320 Pages, Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Strong Prophetic Voice – A Message of Restoration, Freedom, and Holiness

“Princess Warriors: Engaging Spiritual Warfare” is the second in the “Glory to Glory Sisterhood” series. The book describes how women are chosen for battle as princess warriors, a sisterhood of dreaded champions. It is designed as a resource tool or handbook for equipping women for ministry to edify the body of Christ.

Each chapter details important basic principles for waging spiritual warfare. Apply these principles will result in a life of purification and holiness. The reader should be ready for radical life change as they are equipped with the weapons of spiritual warfare.

Assignments are provided for the pursuit of freedom from bondage and strongholds of Satan. Probing questions lead the reader to carefully consider personal areas keeping them from “taking hold of their God given destiny.”  I found the suggested prayers, spiritual exercises, and action steps for implementing a deeper walk operating in the realm of the spirit practical, relevant, and applicable.

The book is ideal for personal or group study. It is arranged in three sections. Part One introduces and establishes the role of understanding the fear of the Lord in preparation for engaging in spiritual warfare. Part Two deals with the elements of spiritual warfare and Part Three covers the three symbols of Princess Warriors.

“Princess Warriors: Engaging Spiritual Warfare” provides powerful instruction, is Biblically based, and presented in a carefully crafted format. Robin Kirby-Gatto writes with passion, transparency, and clarity.  Her writing is articulate, authoritative, and anointed.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.  As reviewed for Midwest Book Review.

Book Review: The Dark Secret of G. A. O. T. U.

The Dark Secret of G.A.O. T. U. – Shattering the Deception of Free Masonry

By: Dr. Ana Mendez-Ferrell

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310

A Critical Look at the History and Teaching of Freemasonry

Dr. Ana Mendez-Ferrell has thoroughly researched the history and teaching of the tenets of Free Masonry for her book “The Dark Secret of G.A. O. T. U.” It is her purpose to disclosure the science, philosophy, legends, and myths of this secret society.  She looks at Freemasonry’s general principles, symbolism, and rites as fundamentally pagan in origin.

I found the information and illustrations in reference to the symbols, oaths, and initiations especially enlightening. I was not aware of the far reaching impact Free Masonry has on national leaders throughout the world and the potential power this pact wields.

The final chapter is dedicated to anyone caught up in Freemasonry and its influence seeking freedom and deliverance from the power it holds over the individual.

Invaluable information is included in the book’s Appendix, including: The History of Freemasonry which lists the thirty three degrees of the Order. The Bibliography and End-Notes included provide additional resources for further reading and study.

Dr. Mendez-Ferrell is articulate, concerned, and convincing. “The Dark Secret of G.A. O. T. U.” is a wakeup call to the dangers and deception behind Free Masonry

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. As reviewed for Midwest Book Review.

Book Review: Mysterious Seed: Maturing in Father’s Love

Mysterious Seed

By: Bob Mumford

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.

P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 172587-0310

978-0768438970, $ 16.99, 2011, 334 pages

Profound Reality Checks for Growing Spiritually

“Mysterious Seed” is a compilation of over 250 short transcendent teachings ideal for daily devotional reading. Each reading contains applications which will impact the spiritual, physical, and emotional life of the reader.

I appreciate the format of the book which encourages reflection and introspection aimed at helping the reader take the proactive steps necessary for dynamic Christian living drawing on the power and resources of God’s DNA within us. Bible teacher and best-selling author Bob Mumford uses the analogy of the seed to demonstrate the concept maturing in the Father’s love.

Mumford draws on well selected Biblical passages, uses diagrams and charts, as well as his own observations, experiences, and conclusions to help the reader focus on Christ’s teaching, his promises, scriptural concepts, and principles for building a relationship of intimacy with God.

At the end of each chapter are straight forward “Thoughts and Questions” used in the anticipation of provoking deep and inspiring introspection on the part of the reader and to encourage a more meaningful relationship with God the Father.

Mumford has a unique gift for getting right to the essence of a concept or life principle. Through simple stories and word pictures he sows seeds with the purpose of reaping a harvest as the seed is received, cultivated and nurtured.  He writes to help the reader, expand the capacity to be loved and to expand their capacity to love God as he desires to be loved.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. As reviewed for Midwest Book Review.

Book Review: Heart of the Young Gladiator

                      Heart of the Young Gladiator

By: Don Smarto

Product Details


Poems Expressing Despair and Hope Written by Youth in Custody

“Heart of the Young Gladiator” is an anthology of poems compiled by Don Smarto. The book is the made up of poems written by youth in custody who took part in Don’s four-hour Writing Seminars, taught during a six year period in 30 juvenile facilities across the United States.
Don takes the reader behind the scenes of these facilities to introduce them to the deeper thoughts in the minds and hearts of these gang members and troubled youth.

Smarto looks at himself as a facilitator – “coaxing the talent to the surface.” He describes the success of his method this way: hard work, incorporating things that interest the students in the curriculum, and a love for those in the class

In addition to the 55 poems written by incarcerated youth the seminars are 40 photos of young prisoners. These were photographed by Don in facilities throughout America and Russia. The poses chosen for the photos used in the book portray the contemplative expressions of confined youth, their loneliness, heartache, uncertainty, dejection, boredom, expectancy, and hope.

The poems are authentic, straightforward, creative, and resourceful. They demonstrate a resolute individuality that resonate the essence of their true moral fiber. The writing is memorable, revealing incredible insight, self portraits, inner feelings, and personal values. The poems are written with fervency, from the depth of their hearts.

Don’s experience in camera work for NBC News, producing
documentaries, as well as other presswork for PBS, and his thirty-three years working with troubled youth enabled Don to producing this awe inspiriting collection of poetry and photography.

“Heart of the Young Gladiator” is written to showcase the potential of youth who have only branded by negative labels the resulting from social prejudice, abandonment, or lack of opportunity. Don Smarto provides a gratifying look at the root causes that draw neglected youth to join gangs, indulge in anti-social behavior which leads to detention – to a crossroads leading to crime and imprisonment or to a life of restitution, redemption, and restoration.

Book Review: Urban Assault – The Word on the Street

Urban Assault: The Word on the Street
By: J. D. Morgan
Eleventh Hour Evangelistic Association
106 San Pablo Towne Center, Suite 117
San Pablo, CA 94806
9780615582860l, 2010, 70 pages
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Reaching the City for Jesus – Urban Outreach Initiatives
J. D. Morgan is no stranger to the challenge of ministry in urban American centers. Morgan recognizes the marked difference between the urban and suburban cultures. The demographics stand in dramatic contrast.

The urban community is assaulted daily by the evils and injustices of racism, poverty, corrupt leaders, dysfunctional families, and underfunded schools. Moved by compassion for the physical needs and a concern for the spiritual lives of individuals trapped in lifestyle of drugs, prostitution, violent crime, and AIDS related disease James calls on the Christians across urban to step up to the plate and join in the battle of evangelizing urban America through a program of evangelization.

The “Reaching the City for Jesus” manual is designed as a tool to equip and motivate individual Christians within the church to move from the “comfort of the sanctuary” to “the encounter zones of the streets and lanes of the city.”

The challenge for this outreach training comes from the passage in the Gospel of Luke that challenges the disciples to “…Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” (KJV Bible).

The study is true to the scriptures providing students to gain knowledge and communication skills to impart and empower these same truths to individuals within the urban community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Urban Assault: The Word on the Street” is a balance of foundational truths, basic principles, and practical in application. A powerful tool of evangelism and discipleship.

An advance reading copy  of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.


Book Review: Wilson

Wilson the Dalmation: Victorian Carriage Dog

By: Ami Hendrickson
MuseInk at Smashwords

Imaginative, Informative, and Highly Entertaining

I am always looking for just the right story for my grandkids. “Wilson The Dalmatian: Victorian Carriage Dog” is that perfect story to spark their imagination.  The story takes place in England in the year 1841. While transporting them to another time and place in history this edition will encourage them to take advantage of the recent technological innovation of kindle reading.

Hendrickson brilliantly communicates her intuitive insight into animals and her understanding of the bonding of a child with their dog. She reveals her own love, and respect for animals through this appealing story. The story is told as seen through the eyes Wilson, a Dalmatian carriage dog. Ami captures the imaginative capabilities of every child as she describes Wilson’s playful antics, his black spots and shiny white coat, and his job to protect the family of his master.

The story is written for children ages 9 – 11. Children will vicariously bond with Wilson. They will recognize his young exuberance and playfulness, his loyalty, and his watchfulness, and sense of responsibility. Ami reveals human characteristics into the personality of Wilson. She skillfully builds a feeling of tension and anticipation in the reader as the danger and suspense heighten.

“Wilson The Dalmatian: Victorian Carriage Dog” is informative, age appropriate, and stimulates the young reader’s creative imagination. Highly recommended!

Shannin’s Challenge

The church bulletin simply stated, Piano Solo -Shannin Blake. Shannin took her place at the piano. A hush came over the audience. One might have thought a great concert pianist was about to perform because the audience listened in awe from the first note.

Thirteen years earlier my daughter-in-law, Holly, experienced a normal pregnancy as she carried her fourth child to full term. However, unexpected problems came up during labor. After an hour the cries of a baby girl brought relief to the, tension filled medical team.

Parents, siblings, grandparents and friends fell in love with Shannin. Within months a dark cloud loomed on the horizon. Expected behavior characteristics did not develop normally. Muscle development seemed arrested. Rick and Holly became concerned about their baby’s problems. Shannin did not learn to turn over, sit up, crawl or walk as the other children had. Daytime fears became nightmares as every possible birth defect was imagined.

Consultations with pediatricians, specialists, and therapists, became a way of life for the family, as concern mounted. After several months of testing Shannin was diagnosed with a strain of cerebral palsy.

The disease left Shannin partially paralyzed on her left side. As she grew older her left arm hung limp. Her hand was inclined to turn outward behind her back. She dragged her left foot as she walked or ran. Intense weekly therapy during her toddler and preschool years helped tone muscles and create patterns that minimized her limitations.

A sharp mind and an undaunted spirit enabled Shannin to compensate for these “inconveniences”. Drama, ballet, soccer, and piano, are only a few of the challenges Shannin met with gusto as she moved from babyhood to adolescence.

Recently, I shared Shannin’s story with Mary, the attendant at mission boutique. While shopping I purchased a carved wooden giraffe from Kenya. I wanted the larger of two beautiful carvings, but chose instead a medium sized one to fit my gift budget.

Later in the day, Mary presented me with the larger more impressive giraffe carving, with these instructions. “This is for Shannin, you will note there is a slight defect, a fine line crack in the wood, I won’t be able to sell it. I want to encourage Shannin to continue to stretch herself, to take a lesson from the giraffe, to stick her neck out. Remind Shannin to hold her head high. Then the flaws and imperfections will hardly be noticed.”

Shannin demonstrated this truth as the complicated piano arrangement progressed. We all sat spellbound as Shannin used her elbow to play the hard to reach bass notes. When the music ended the audience enthusiastically applauded. My heart was about to burst with pride for the spirit of determination and confidence demonstrated by this very special girl.

Book Review: The Life Coaching Connection: How Coaching Changes Lives

The Life Coaching Connection: How Coaching Changes Lives

By: Steve Chandler, Robert D. Reed Publishers, 1380 Face Rock Drive, Bandon, Oregon 97411

978-1934759547, $ 14.95, 2011, 168 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Empowerment Guidelines for a New Breed of Coach

“The Life Coaching Connection: How Coaching Changes Lives” is a definitive work for professional life-coaches who genuinely want to impact their clients lives. Recognized as “the coaches coach” Steve Chandler is a pace setter in the personal growth movement. His writing is innovative, provocative, and inspirational.

Chandler’s concepts are well grounded in practical wisdom learned and experienced by Steve himself.  I imagined myself on a treasure hunt as I read, not unlike a prospector seeking a rich goldmine filled with nuggets.  I discovered that transformation from the inside is more valuable than the download of expert advice transmitted through lectures and reading, it is about provocation.   I was challenged to connect with “who I am” as a key to attaining greatness, tapping into my personal potential within to change my sense of self-fulfillment. I learned the benefit of challenge as a means of increased productivity and creativity.  Using a natural progression Steve introduces a number of operating principles for focus, empowerment, and making a difference through creation.

“The Life Coaching Connection: How Coaching Changes Lives” is written not only for the practicing “life-coach” and their clients, but is highly beneficial for anyone who is interested in how and why coaching works. Life principles within the book are applicable to every situation, circumstance, and individual.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. As reviewed for Midwest Book Review