Thursday, June 27, 2013

"The Next Christians" by Gabe Lyons

Not too long ago, I saw a book in the Christian bookstore called unChristian, which was co-written by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. I bought it immediately and began to read it that very day. The insights in that book, based on how different sections of non-Christians view those professing to be followers of Jesus Christ, really opened my eyes. When I saw that Gabe Lyons had written a follow-up book called The Next Christians, I figured it was a positive follow-through on some things he had learned in his research.

I began to discover that he had some rather good things to say about the younger generation of Christians in today’s world, that are growing into the leaders of the Church. (Global--with a capital “C,” a.k.a., the Body of Christ.) He is hopeful about where we are headed and the way followers of Christ are adapting to modern culture without losing hold of Biblical ideals and truths. 

The two things that really stand out to me as I think back over the book are Lyon’s description of the time he got to meet Billy Graham in person. He was invited into Rev. Graham’s personal study at his home, and reading Lyon’s recollection and the emotions that he experienced are similar to a child getting to meet “Santa Claus” at the local department store for the very first time. His giddiness jumps out at you, yet you quickly see his appreciation for the very down-to-earth nature of Rev. Graham, and it moves into a story of encouragement as Graham shares Lyon’s passion for the young Christian leaders of the day.

Another story is of a young woman who went above and beyond what would have been expected of her to help someone she encountered. When asked about her motivation, she simply replied, “It’s the right thing to do.” Lyon’s uses this phrase to describe a growing conviction in young Christians in dealing with issues ranging from the spiritual, to the emotional and social. That “right thing” is in regards to what they see in Jesus’ examples throughout the Gospels. No longer are we seeing watered-down, socially-relative “churchianity” taking place, but real imitation of Christ. It is a hopeful place for the Body of Christ (specifically in the United States) to be. 

I pray that Lyon’s insights are correct. Our modern culture needs young leaders who can engage others where they are, and find that common ground, and then use it as an open door to bring people to Christ. The Next Christians is a good read for those involved in church, or those that find themselves repulsed by what media depicts in a negative light of Christianity. It offers a gritty, yet inspiring challenge to take a deeper look at what the future holds.

In fairness of full disclosure, I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Crater by Homer Hickam

Years ago, when the movie “October Sky” was released, I watched it and enjoyed it. A few years later, I married a girl from the town where some of the scenes were filmed--in fact, my wife was an extra in the science fair scene! So, when I had the opportunity to read Crater, by Homer Hickam, the author who wrote Rocket Boys, the source material for the aforementioned movie, I thought it would be cool. 

Crater is the first in a new series of novels called Helium-3. It is a young adult series that takes place in the future and on the moon. Humans have colonized in order to mine for a substance called Helium-3 in order to produce energy on the Earth.

Crater Trueblood is the main character of the story, and the source of the book’s title. He is a sixteen-year-old orphan who is also a miner. He really enjoys his job where he works with his best friend, Petro. After an incident at work makes Crater and Petro reluctant heroes, they are tapped by the mine owner for a special job that ends up being more dangerous and complicated than they first believed. Along the way, Crater develops a maddening relationship with Maria, the mine owner’s granddaughter, and sparks fly--and not always the good kind!

The novel is an easy read for an adult, but should also be easily enjoyable and comprehended by any teenagers or even older children. (I’m probably going to recommend it to my 8-year-old twins to read!) The dialogue is back-and-forth, and draws you into Crater’s heart as you experience personal growth with him. You also get a good sense of Petro’s almost arrogance, and Maria’s stubbornness. The story is obviously of a science-fiction nature, but is not so completely outlandish and technical as to be ignored by those who normally avoid that particular genre.

I enjoyed the escape that Crater provided, and look forward to reading the next installment of the series. Hickam delivers a lively and light-hearted story with dramatic elements that will captivate your attention and give you a fun look at one man’s idea of the future.

In fairness of full disclosure, I received a complimentary copy of this book from