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Saturday, May 25, 2013

book review: not a fan by kyle idleman

Title:  Not A Fan.
Author:  Kyle Idleman
Publisher:  Zondervan (2011)
 
 
Synopsis: Are you a follower of Jesus? Don't answer too quickly. In fact, you may want to read this book before you answer at all. Consider it a 'Define the Relationship' conversation to determine exactly where you stand. You may indeed be a passionate, fully devoted follower of Jesus. Or, you may be just a fan who admires Jesus but isn't ready to let him cramp your style. Then again, maybe you're not into Jesus, period. In any case, don't take the question---Are you a follower of Jesus?---lightly. Some people don't know what they've said yes to and other people don't realize what they've said no to, says Pastor Kyle Idleman. But Jesus is ready to clearly define the relationship he wants with his followers. Not a Fan calls you to consider the demands and rewards of being a true disciple. With frankness sprinkled with humor, Idleman invites you to live the way Jesus lived, love the way he loved, pray the way he prayed, and never give up living for the One who gave his all for you.
 
I was so incredibly moved by this book. Right from the get-go, Idleman poses an unsettling question:  are you a fan or a follower of Jesus? A fan is classified as someone who loves the idea of following Christ, the one who follows someone due to all the perks the association brings; a follower is someone who drops everything and actually goes all out for Christ, a person who labels himself or herself as a bondslave. Which are you? While it may be something that isn't easy to answer honestly (mostly because you would always assume, "Oh, I'm definitely a follower."), this question is challenging because it prompts you to search your heart for a true answer. Why? You're going to be accountable for everything you do and say when you face our Lord in the end. There's no short-cut or magic password that will get you around that day.
 
While this book offers a hard truth, however, it also provides encouragement right from the scriptures. Idleman brings readers through John 3, Matthew 23, Luke 14, John 16, and many more passages to give examples of fans and followers from the Bible and, through these examples, shows us what we can do to become followers. Some of these examples are Nicodemus, Matthew, and more. Idleman also weaves in stories from Christians that have dedicated themselves to be "followers," not "fans," including stories from his own life to drive points home. Given, being a follower is hard:  followers must bear the cross daily, and it may even include turning their back on things they love. After all, in Revelation 3:15-16, it says, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (NKJ). God wants us to be completely sold out for Him, and we as Christians, or "little Christs," should strive to do just that, not just pick and choose to end up being a mixture of worldliness and Godliness.
 
I encourage everyone to read this book. It offers a truth that should not be missed by anyone and highly proclaimed. We shouldn't be fans of Jesus, like some of us are of celebrities (I'm guilty of it). We should be followers that think about and pursue Him each second of our lives. We should want to know Him in His every aspect, as He knows us. We should want to be just like Him and sacrifice ourselves and the things we love for no reason to do it.
 
This is a great aid for us to understand what the Bible says about how our relationship with Christ should be. It can be adapted as a devotional to go along with Bible chapter readings that often accompany the beginning of each chapter of the book, if you're looking for a daily devotional. I didn't do that, however; I read it within 48 hours, which should indicate the caliber of the material and important message Idleman presents.
 
This won't be a waste of your time. I've known about this book for awhile, and it took me that long to get around to actually reading it. But I encourage you sit down and read through its pages as soon as possible; when you are finished, you will have been glad you did.
 
If you'd like, just as a precursor here's an introduction to the book's overall message by Idleman himself:
 
 
 
'Til next time!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

sharing: #IreadYA

I've been planning to post something about adults reading YA for a looooong time, but I just never got around to it. But this article, "Embarrassed About Reading YA? Don't Be!" by Kathryn Williams, hits the main points right on the head, with statistics and all. I highly recommend you read it. It is also presented in its entirety below.

The cover photos on both my Twitter and Facebook pages include YA and adult fiction.

More than half of the young adult books sold in the US are bought by adults—adults who 78% of the time are buying the books for themselves, not a teen. So why are you still hiding your copy of Divergent under a dust jacket for the latest Louise Erdrich? We know that’s not Nietzsche on your NOOK.
You read YA. You read it. You know you do, or you wouldn’t have clicked on this link. So own it. That’s the idea behind Scholastic’s #IreadYA campaign this week. Authors and readers, like myself, are taking to Twitter and Facebook to say it loud and proud: YA is not just for young adults. Here’s why you should be reading it.
It’s universal. Studies prove that 100% of adults have been a teen at some point in their lives. That’s a hard statistic to get around. Not every reader once rescued a group of endangered bonobos from a violent revolution or hunted escapees from a vast library of the dead or starred in a reality cooking show in Napa Valley. But every reader has felt the awkwardness and excitement and frustration and invincibility and longing for connection and understanding that is being a teenager.
It’s heightened. I like to say that YA is just the human drama writ large, because for teens (and teen characters), everything is new. Therefore it is exhilarating and frightening and, yes, life or death, even if it just feels that way. You will find love and pain and forgiveness and failure in YA, so prepare to feel. Luckily even hardcovers are cheaper than therapy.
It’s good. I’m done with the impression that YA is simply dumbed-down literature, and so is The New York Times and just about every respectable critic. Yes, there is crappy YA, like there is crappy everything. But there is also really fantastically, achingly good YA. So good that it wins National Book Awards and Edgar Allen Poe Awards and Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and Lambda Literary Awards and lots of other awards that “adult” books earn too. That’s more than you can say for your oh-so-adult J.D. Robb paperback.
Variety is the spice of life. There’s no rule that says we’re allowed only one genre. I’m in an MFA program that has me reading the most literary of literary literature. Some nights, it’s frankly nice to put down An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter and pick up Eleanor & Park. It keeps my perspective fresh and my mind from melting.
You too can be cool. YA literature is where it’s at, and if you read it, you know no one says that anymore. Keep up with the younger generation through books so you don’t have your younger sister/cousin/niece/daughter stare holes through your head when you ask her “‘sup?”
Everyone else is. If teens know anything, it’s peer pressure. You don’t want to be the only at your book club who doesn’t know why Peeta is so much better for Katniss than Gale.
Do you read YA?

So what do you say? Jump on Twitter or Facebook and proclaim it for the world to see. #IreadYA

'Til next time!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

book review: roger and amy's epic detour by morgan matson

Title: Roger and Amy's Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers (2010)
 
 
Synopsis
Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.
 
Okay, let's start with this:  I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. In fact, it was one of those books that I just had a hard time finishing because I wanted it to last so much longer than it did. Seriously, when I had five pages to go, I put it off for a week just so I could still look forward to reading it. Why did I love it so much, you ask? Here are only a few reasons (there are infinitely more):

The characters were so marvelous in this book. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than stock characters. Sure, they can drive a point home if you have a limited time to present someone, but in a novel you have the time to get the story behind every character. That said, I was really impressed with the story that each character told, even the smaller characters that Amy and Roger visited or ran into during their stays in different states. I really liked the way Roger was portrayed in this book, too. Often in YA, guys typically seem to be crafted with a one-size-fits-all mold; that's not true for Roger. He has layers, responsibilities, worries. So does Amy. And just to tack this in on the end:  I love that Amy loves musical theatre. I got all the references, which may have been a reason why I appreciated her character so much. The well thought-out characters set up the book for the success it definitely has today.

The plot is something I cannot say enough about, not only because it's so detailed but because it's so much more than a plot. It's... well, it's... it's an experience, a metaphoric roadtrip, if you will. There's one road that continues on between Amy and Roger, and then there are pit stops where little vignettes of situations teach them a story they have to learn about themselves and each other because the end of their journey. The fact that the chapters can seem somewhat short and postcards, journal entries, etcetera are incorporated into the story should definitely NOT deter you from reading. It did for me when I first found it on the shelf of my local bookstore, but don't make that mistake. How the characters interact, relate to each other, and finally end up is just... it's like nothing I've read before it. The situation that Amy goes through and overcomes with her brother, father, and mother are incredibly original. It's AMAZING. Like I said, it's an experience... an experience that everyone should have.

The writing was SOOOOOOOOO fantastic. Morgan Matson, if you're reading this, I loved it; you made some pretty acclaimed authors out there look foolish with the caliber of your writing. Thank you for preserving the English language in such a beautiful way. *End personal note to Morgan Matson.* Okay, but it really is fantastic guys. I can't even describe in more than one word:  perfection.

As a wrap-up, this book ain't no pithy rom-com. This is pure gold. A whirl-wind cross-country, rubber-meets-road adventure that not only impressed me with its wit and fast-paced drive, but with its sudden bursts of true emotion and beauty. THIS book reflects the human condition. Amen.

Verdict: You must read it.

I'll leave you with this:


'Til next time!

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