Saturday, October 5, 2019

BLOOD TALLY by Brian Mclellan #Review #Kickstarter #Reading #JustBeingHere

I was able to procure an advanced copy of Blood Tally by Brian Mclellan, who wrote the amazing Power Mage series which I very much enjoy. When Brian sent me the review copy of Blood Tally he was also amazing enough to also send me a copy of the first book, Uncanny Collateral, which - if you are quick enough you can get it for free on Kindle
  Here is my quick review of Uncanny Collateral: 

A quick and enjoyable read. A slick urban fantasy that brings me back to the days first reading Dresden books. While it has a similar feel it has it's own flair. Language can be rough at times, but it's not too overbearing. Characters are good and I'm extremely interested in more of the story, as well as, what they will do as more comes their way. 
If you are a fan of this type of urban fantasy you may want to check out the Kickstarter for Blood Tally. It has already reached it's primary goal, but Brian has been adding other goals to it to make the book even nicer. So check it out and feel free to support how you can.  

Now here is my quick review of Blood Tally:

A nice continuation of this series. I feel that the ante was upped and a new character or two brought themselves into my heart. Still very reminiscent of Dresden files, and it can be hard not to expect Harry to pop up around the corner ready to help Alek out. I still say this has its own flair, but my enjoyment of Jim Butcher's series is certainly helping my enjoyment of this one along. This is such a different feel from Brian's Powder Mage series, which make sense as the magic is different and the setting and technology. I can't help but say I enjoy it. I also like how it does not take extra time to tell a story that can be told in the pages this does... And without really sacrificing too much on character development.

Go ahead and pre-order Bloody Tally from Amazon if you like!

Finally the third book to the second trilogy of the Power Mage series is releasing soon (Dec. 3rd as I'm writing this) - so pre-order Blood of Empire as well!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review: A Brush with the Beast by Richard Sones #Review

The physical book:

I like this type of print and cover. It feels nice in your hands and the book itself is a good size. Not too heavy and certainly not so small that it feels like you are holding nothing.

The story:

On a whole the story is good. It had what it needs to pull through plot and push certain things forward, but it really does not give a whole lot of rhyme or reason for these things at times.

The Characters :

What you read on the back cover is pretty much the same you get from the book, so I recommend not reading that back cover until you are halfway through the book as it does help with some charater progression that really is not translated well in the prose. I honestly felt like too much character progressing was happening between chapters instead of where the reader could understand and enjoy it. This is my favorite part of stories and I felt this very much lacked in that area.

The Encouragement :

I found the encouragement between believers was the best parts of the book. The lifting up with scriptures and stories from the Bible was fantastic.

The Left Behind issue :

This is a book that very much deals with end times but no where near to the scale that it was done in left behind. If you enjoyed those books... This one will fall flat. Which is sad as this seems to have some cool points and characters that could have had some awesome moments. They just don't really show up.

The ending :

Not satisfying at all. Only one story is kind of wrapped up. If there was plan for more books..okay..but it was very lacking. Especially if you know much about end times and all that is in revelation.

Content rating :

I was suprised when this book opened itself to cursing. Most of the book does not have it and the character that does it... Well that makes sensebthst they would talk in such a way.. But it could have been more cleanly done, I think.

Disclaimer : I was provided this book for an honest review. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Is the WOOL blinding you from the NOISE? #JustBeingHere #Sin

How often do you take things for granted?

Maybe it is something you enjoy, like having a cell phone keeping you on track with just about everything in your life.

It could be your spouse who takes care of 100 things you may never even notice.

Your vehicle, your job, your home, your massive collection of Funko Pop! Characters ... No matter what it is we can become blind, deaf and dumb to it.

What about tradition, or habit? Is this taken for granted?

I think so... We get so used to a certain order of 'noise' in our lives and without it happening we may believe there is something wrong.

A book I read a while back deals with this kind of thing in various degrees and one of the more engrossing ones really stuck with me. It had to do with the mechanics of a post-apocalyptic silo.  The book is called "Wool" and the name is quite intentional as in the expression, "Pull the wool over one's eyes". 
You are going to need a little back story and I will do what I can to keep from spoiling anything as this series is quite an enjoyable read.
Like this, but bigger and deep in the ground
Imagine a post-Apocalyptic world where people are living in what is basically a massive bunker/fallout shelter called a 'Silo'.  Only a portion of the structure breaches the surface of the ground and deep within the depths there is machinery generating the power for all the people living in it.  The gears have been turning for an unknown amount of years, the people working in the area have long worn ear protection because of the constant noise of the machinery churning and turning. 

One of the maintenance workers sees an opportunity to do a little fixing up and pulls a few strings to have everything shut down for a short time so they can clean up and reset the gears.  The fix takes a while, keeping many people in the Silo with less or no power for a time.  They get the work done and the moment finally comes to have the system turned back on.

Everyone is holding their breath as the key is about to be turned to get the machines churning again.

 The key is turned and the tell tale signs of grinding and gears turning is not present what-so-ever.  

There is silence.  

They wait a moment ... but still nothing is heard, and just like if we had turned the key to our vehicles and received no response they move to turn the key again, but are stopped when someone comes running and telling everyone the machine IS running.
Come to find out, all the maintenance and resetting made the machine run so much better it was running completely silent.  They were amazed, they were proud, they were victims of 'taking things for granted' in such a way as to create a 'tradition', a noisy one to be sure, but it made them comfortable.
After reading this I knew it held a wonderful truth. No matter how much this 'noise' may seem to give you comfort by being in your life, it is actually a symptom of a root problem in the maintenance of your life.   

It is a cry, a grinding of the gears of your life - and that ... is NOT a good thing!
We always seem to bring up things which are actually beneficial to us as things 'taken for granted' but seldom try to root out the things we do that we shouldn't or are just unnecessary.

While lost in sin we are just like these people living in this silo, with worldly wool over our eyes ... or ears in their case, unaware of the impending destruction the choices we are making will have in our life, or afterlife more matter of fact.
There is a hope though, an assurance through the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Romans 8:12-13 (NIV)

A change occurs within us - your desires begin to shift, your ears hear differently, your eyes see differently, but the old desires die hard.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
The flesh will battle, it will do what it can to create dissonance.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Romans 7:14-20 (NIV)
The sides at war?
The dissonant noise in one corner?
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)

And the soothing sounds of proper gearing in the other?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
TiN RiP LA - is how it was taught to me when I was in youth group years ago and has stuck with me ever since.

The NOISE of sin in our lives CAN be beaten back!  The tuning fork of the word of God in conjunction with the Holy Spirit can be used to determine the sounds which should be produced in your life: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual.

Every step in the direction of Jesus reorders the gears to properly produce an orchestra of wonderful music, which is God's will for your life.

Seriously take a moment to ensure your life is properly geared!  Do not let the noise be your comfort, but take it as the warning it truly is and move towards the CHANGE which is needed!
There are not many people who begin to hear a change in their vehicle's engine and do nothing about it, but yet we do it in our own lives.
There must have been people in the Silo as the gears started to groan but they never stood up and made the changes to ensure the continual proper working of the system.
Do not let this happen to you!
You may feel like everything is fine, but be sure to be honest with yourself and look seriously within your spirit for these signs.  Are the things in Galatians 5 more prevalent, or are they the ones in Philippians 4?

 If it is the things mentioned in Galatians I urge you accept Christ, accept His sacrifice for your sins and let the WOOL from the Lamb of God cover you from the noise of "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like."

If it is the things mentioned in Philippians I urge you to keep up your guard, to keep your life in tune with God's word.  As soon as you begin to hear the interference of sin move to reinstate the statutes of TiN RiP LA!
Is the WOOL blinding you from the NOISE? ... I hope so!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Foot Washing that Never Happened #JustBeingHere #Servanthood

My good friend set up an entire canoeing trip with many of his friends as well as myself. It was an exciting opportunity to get to hang out. I saw it as a perfect time to impart something spiritual onto those I was meeting for the first time. I had a plan. A good plan. A righteous plan. I looked into the life and choices of Christ and picked one of the strongest decisions he made. I did this in order to slam dunk some Godly wisdom into others. It was going to be awesome.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
     -John 13:4-14 (ESV)

I traveled with my friend and his brother in the car ride to our destination. It was a crazy experience to travel through a town called Flippin at two in the morning. The jokes came out in spades. We got to the campsite, set up tents and went to sleep. The trip, while crazy already, was proving to be great fun.

I had a zip lock bag with the items I planned on using to wash everyone's feet. Some soaps and washcloths. I packed it before we left, but I was the only one who knew it's true purpose.

The next day when we decided to finally head out to the river I rode with a fairly newly married couple I had never met before. It would be nice to break the ice and get them to know me a bit before I washed their feet somewhere down a river later. I never had the chance. Instead of me breaking this ice... they did. I was asked an interesting question. "What is your spiritual gift?" It caught me off guard. I did not look into the world as a Christian as in some way needing a particular gift. I also could not define myself as one very thing. It was troubling to me to think of only one gift was the thing I would be and do for my God for all time. This did not hold them back from explaining to me the gifts they each believed they had. I could only tell them of what I have done in my past. I was shocked to find none of it mattered to me. None of what would be considered "accomplishments" set within me an idea of me being a holder of some special gift I was imparting into the world. This made me wonder why it would be so important to them to claim their gifts.

This revelation never grew to anything much more than that at this time. We got our canoes and entered the water. We had a pretty awesome trip and made some fond memories, but I never washed anyone's feet. I wish I could say it was because I felt it was unnecessary. Or I could say water got into the zip-lock bag I had the tools for washing in. Or there was just no time for it to happen.

When I think back on it, the only reason I can come up with is I did not feel I was good enough.

Is it not odd I could feel this way.

How can a person not be good enough to wash another's feet? It is often portrayed as being one of the lowest of jobs. One fit for a slave. How could I have felt lower than that? My perspective laid heavily on Christ. I could see how He did this for His disciples and showed them truth in servant hood. I could not see myself being what Jesus was to those who He walked with on this earth.
There was no way I could be "that guy" to these people.
These guys were able to definitively set themselves into a particular spiritual gift and I couldn't not do that.
How could I be someone who could teach them anything?
How could I inspire or encourage them?

With these thoughts I was "talked" out of it. Who knows... this very act could have instilled a spiritual sight into us we never would have had without it. Or.. it could have turned us against one another in an all out superhero brawl which would end in tears.
I don't know what the outcome would have been, but I am now certain I lost a chance to reach out. It should never matter how much greater someone around you seems. It should never matter how lowly you may think of yourself, you can always be a servant to others. You can always lovingly guide and teach others. Don't make the same mistake I did. Wash the feet of another when you have the chance to do so!

Have you ever not done something you felt led to do? 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Accepting and Moving on From REJECTION as a Christian #JustBeingHere #Rejection

Blind Rejection

Paul's conversion from Saul to Paul is astounding and at times undervalued for what it really meant.
Being a man in good standing in society and flipping his thoughts and opinions to something so foreign to popular thought of the times is something we really just cannot imagine, though we may think we can.

And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” Acts 9:20-21

Message Rejection

One particular instance of Paul's desire to change the minds of others to what was now undeviating truth to himself can actually give us some insight to dealing with rejection.
Paul travels to Antioch with Barnabas and preaches to Jew and Gentile alike. They want to hear more, but the crowds are so filled with Gentiles that the Jews loose it . One would think they would rejoice and accept the completion of the law which held them in place for so many long years, but what was their response?

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you[f] a light for the Gentiles,
    that you[g] may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’[h]

Acts 13:44-47

Dust off Rejection


Being rejected is a hard thing to move past

When we are rejected for something as important as salvation it can be even harder. We, who are giving our testimony may pour out our hearts and souls in love for others to just begin to see and accept the Savior, yet we can be "contradicted and abused".

How do Paul and Barnabas deal with this ?

50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 13:50-52

 It's truly comforting to see Paul using tactics similar to what Jesus dictated to those he personally sent out when placed in a situation like this.

But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ Luke 10:10-11
We are called to do as Paul did, claiming Jesus as our Savior, but at times the crowd we are bringing this message to will be like that of these Jews in Antioch. We have an interesting choice to make.
We can let the rejection of others cause us to quit all together, we can constantly beat our words upon stone hearts, or we can accept that we have no power to change others and move on to a different crowd, just as Paul did.

Invitation Rejection

The message Christ gave about the Kingdom of Heaven being like a wedding feast really showed how this hardship would happen.

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
Matthew 22:1-3

Those who were set to be invited refused to come, even after a second personal invitation. Those invited to the feast explained that they had more important things to do.

If we understand the importance of a wedding and see the enormous disrespect given by those invited, then we can be even more shocked to realize this is a spiritual example of how the Kingdom of Heaven is rejected. Paul's rejection of his message by the Jews really begins to come clear understanding it through this parable, especially when we see the depth some of those invited to the wedding feast treated the servants of the one throwing the feast.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
Matthew 22:4-7

God Encourages Thru Rejection

Paul was often sought after by those who were Jewish, claiming Paul was breaking laws and deserving of death, but the message of Jesus being Christ was never quenched from his lips!

God is an encourager, He will always desire us to continue in His work no matter the opposition.

God encourages Paul in Corinth:
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Acts 18:9-11 (emphasis mine)

Paul clearly went from those who were properly invited to those in the streets, just as was talked about in Jesus' parable. Is there some other group we should turn to when we have been rejected?

Should we be turning to others?


The answer has a yes and a no.

The No?
The kingdom of heaven is here now, as well as to be later. We are to a point where every person is eligible for acceptance. It may have been Paul and Peter, as well as a few others, who opened the door to move from the chosen of God, but the banquet is ready and set for all those willing to accept it now.

The Yes?
We can move from those who, right now, do not wish to accept the message and turn to others, but no longer letting classifications keep us in bounds for who can know and accept this wonderful news!

We should be prepared for acceptance or rejection, but fear neither. We should be ready to shake the dust from us and let the message sink in or wash off those we have provided it to.

Are you wearing the right thing?

The final thing we must all be certain to do is be dressed for the occasion:

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:11-14

Could it be called unfair to do this to someone who was only pulled from the street to attend a wedding?
Certainly they just did not have the time to get ready, or maybe they just lacked the resources? Can we not give the benefit to those in this case?
No. It seems not.
When Paul diligently began to seek and teach the gentiles, they took to the message and changed themselves according to the truth being given to them. Obviously not all of them, but they were grateful for the chance to be accepted.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you[f] a light for the Gentiles,
    that you[g] may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’[h]
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.

Acts 13:46-49

As we personally accept this wonderful gift we need to do the same.

Preaching it is one thing, living it is another

Be certain to be dressed for the part in speech and in behavior. It IS important.
Standing by this integrity will help you when things are tough, and always know there are people willing to hear the message of Christ.

Have you ever been rejected for your message of Christ? What did you do in response?

Derek is a Children's Pastor and Men's Leader in his home church, Mechanical Designer @ T-tek, Book Reviewer, and Prestidigitator. He is a Fantasy reader, Whovian, and Funko Pop and Toy Collector. Derek lives in Alabama with his wife and four children.
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