Book Review – The Last Man by Vince Flynn

The Last ManThe Last Man: A Novel
The Last Man – Kindle EditionVince Flynn has done it again! The Last Man is an adrenaline packed thrill ride that has more twists and turns than the world’s great roller coasters. The book finds American assassin Mitch Rapp knee deep in a in conspiracy and mystery in post-Bin Laden Afghanistan.

When Joe Rickman, the CIA’s top head of clandestine operations in Afghanistan is kidnapped, a tsunami of epic proportions is set off in the various branches of governments and intelligence agencies around the region and in the United States.

Who was behind this coordinated attack and how to recover Rickman becomes the CIA’s top priority, for in the head of Rickman lies secrets that could cripple the clandestine operations of America and her allies.

What begins as a simple mission gets more and more complicated as Rapp and his team get further into the operation.

What makes this and every other Vince Flynn novel so good is the detail and realism that Flynn brings to the project. There have been many in the government, military and clandestine organizations over the years who have questioned where Flynn gets his information, because it is startlingly accurate.

Flynn’s novel shows some of the serious pitfalls in the U.S. government’s current policy of reintegration in post-Bin Laden Afghanistan. While reading my pre-release copy of The Last Man, from Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster,  the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya was brutally attacked. Flynn’s novel helps readers understand some of the current tensions in the Middle East, with a look at the Taliban, Iranians, Pakistanis, Afghans, Russians, Swiss banks, and the United States.

The Last Man is a welcome reunion of Mitch Rapp and our current day. Flynn’s last two novels, American Assassin, and Kill Shot, were essentially prequels to the story of Rapp, and a very welcome addition to the narrative. Fans of Mitch Rapp will enjoy seeing what the assassin has been up to and enjoy catching up with a number of favorite characters along the way.

The Last Man isn’t Flynn’s best novel, but it certainly a great read and a wonderful addition to the Mitch Rapp library.

As in all of Flynn’s novels the language is a bit rough with plenty of military bravado and assassin angst thrown in. The detailed descriptions of torture and assassinations may make some readers squeamish. All in all, The Last Man, is a great read that opens the eyes of readers into the complexities of the continuing war on terror.

I received a complimentary e-book of The Last Man, from Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster for purposes of this review.

Book Review: Why Church Matters

why churchWhy Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God
Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God – Kindle Edition Joshua Harris clearly loves the church, warts and all. His excellent book, Why Church Matters, was previously published as Stop Dating the Church. In it you get a clear picture of why commitment matters to God and why membership in the body of Christ is a good thing.

In a generation that devalues membership in a local church body, Harris has given us a gift. His book offers compelling arguments from personal experience as well as Scripture about why making a commitment to a fellowship of believers matters.As a pastor, this is a book that I will use often with new church members and in membership classes. Far from boring,  Why Church Matters is a book that will inspire, bless and challenge the members of your church! A+ book!I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Book Review: Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

marvel
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story – Kindle Edition

 I am a self proclaimed superhero junkie. For years my sons and I have stood in line at the midnight premiers of superhero films to ensure that we would be the first in our region to see a new superhero movie. So, when I heard that Sean Howe was writing the definitive history on all things Marvel, I had to request an advance copy.
It takes someone like Sean Howe, a brilliant entertainment critic and former editor of Entertainment Weekly Magazine,  with a love of all things Marvel to appreciate the history that is Marvel Comics.In Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Howe takes the reader on a historical journey to a day and age when the world was desperately seeking superheroes, but didn’t necessarily realize it was something that they needed.Howe handles the history of Marvel Comics with a care that is normally reserved for more weighty historical topics, and in doing so helps the reader understand the sociological factors that became the fertile soil in which Marvel became such a cultural phenomenon.I absolutely loved this book. It was a historical journey worth taking, surprising me with delightful and sometimes heartbreaking stories . . . kind of like a comic book.Well done, Sean Howe! Bravo.
I received this book for free from Harper Collins Publishers  for this review.

Good Things Come in Small Packages

radicalidea
A Radical Idea: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (10-Pack)
A Radical Idea: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God – Kindle Edition

 There is an old axiom that states, Good things come in small packages. I haven’t always believed it. I certainly haven’t believed it when it comes to booklets. When I received a package that contained ten review copies of David Platt’s booklet A Radical Idea I was initially disappointed. I’m not sure that I have ever read a tiny booklet and been overly impressed. So, to say that I was surprised to find myself delighted, challenged and convicted in just 52 short pages is a bit of an understatement.
As he has done in his books Radical and Radical Together, Platt challenges readers to move beyond the complacency and consumerism of the American church and into true discipleship. In his opening pages Platt writes, “God-exalting men and women do not have the time to waste their lives pursuing a Christian spin on the American dream.” He then begins to unpack his vision of what the church could look like if together we pursued radical obedience to Christ’s mission to make disciples; which he repeatedly calls “impacting the world with the Spirit of God for the glory of God.”Platt, who pastors a mega-church in a multi-million dollar facility, challenges American Christians to rethink church. Increasingly uncomfortable with the massive amounts of dollars that western churches throw into buildings and ministry, Platt challenges us to think about how we are unleashing people for ministry that happens apart from the building. Platt has asked his church leaders to ask themselves how they would do church if they didn’t have the luxury of a building. It is clear that much of Platt’s thinking on church has been developed by his trips to parts of the world where being a follower of Jesus is illegal.He writes on page eleven that, “the goal of the church is never for one person to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ. The goal is always for all God’s people to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ.” He then discusses how Jesus used eleven men, who would have been considered the “wrong people” by many in the modern church, to transform the world for Christ.I like to keep a journal when I read books. One of the phrases that I wrote down while reading this book is, “Building the right church, then, is dependent on using all the wrong people” (page 12).Modern churches in other parts of the world and certainly the early church have not been built around great communicators, fantastic programs, state of the art facilities and worship. These churches have grown because of a desire for the people of God to gather together no matter the cost, for the glory of God. Platt asks his readers to consider, “What if the church itself – the people of God gathered in one place – is intended to be the attraction, regardless of who is teaching or singing that day? This is enough for our brothers and sisters around the world. But is it enough for us?” (page 18).Platt spends the remainder of the book detailing the need for churches to “make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples, and together multiply the Gospel to all peoples” (see page 47).In the church that I pastor we’ve encouraged each of our members to follow the example of Jesus when it comes to discipleship. Jesus had a core group of three men that He discipled in a greater way than anyone else. He spend three years building into the twelve disciples. He had a group of 70 that he poured into at a lesser level. And, He had the multitudes who he poured into at an even lesser level. Platt’s book challenges us to do a similar thing. He encourages each member of the church to be involved in a discipleship journey with those whom God has brought into their life.

I will be giving A Radical Idea to all of the small group leaders, church staff and elders at our church. It’s nice to have a booklet that can easily be read in 30 minutes or less to give to the core leaders of our congregation. A Radical Idea is a great companion to a discipleship program that seeks to “unleash the people of God for the purpose of God.” (Platt’s terminology, not mine — but I sure like it!) I highly recommend this resource.

To read an excerpt of A Radical Idea, follow this link and click the excerpt tab.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Soulprint – Book Review

Soulprint
Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny
Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny – Kindle Edition

Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. has written a marvelous book, in Soulprint that should leave readers inspired to make a difference in their generation for Jesus Christ.Perhaps living in a city where people are all about making a name for themselves, has allowed Batterson to write a book about our uniqueness without making it sound like it is all about you. There are plenty of books on the market that teach us about our uniqueness, but Batterson writes about the subject with a keen recognition that our uniqueness has more to say about God than it does about us. When we discover who we are, who we are not, and begin

to understand God’s plan for our lives, we can make an impact on the world that will not soon be forgotten.If you are struggling with your purpose in life, wanting to know why God created you the way that He did, this book is for you. If you have read lots of books on identity, purpose, strengths, and spiritual gifts, there is enough new information presented in Batterson’s book that it will give you some new food for thought.This book would work great as a small group curriculum. As a former youth pastor, I think this would be a great book to work through with juniors and seniors in high school, or college students. Dealing with some of these issues in formative years would be a blessing to many of our students. As a dad, I plan  on taking my kids through this book in the very near future.