Tag Archives: spiritual warfare

Review: Exile, by Rachel Starr Thomson

Exile: The Oneness Cycle, by Rachel Starr Thomson

Exile, by Rachel Starr Thomson (Little Dozen Press, 2013)

On a stormy sea, fishing buddies Tyler and Chris discover a young woman in their net. As if that’s not startling enough, once she’s dry and recovering in their cottage, they hear a window break and rush to find her holding a sword and claiming to have killed a demon. On the floor lies a dead bat, but Chris is sure he saw something larger before it shrank.

So opens Exile, book 1 in The Oneness Cycle. The young woman, Reese, has been exiled from her group of believers. That shouldn’t be possible, but it happened and the grief is almost more than she can handle. The sword shouldn’t be possible for an exile, but it appeared in her hand when needed.

The Oneness is “one of three spiritual forces” (Kindle location 167) in the world, with the other two being angels and demons. Members of the Oneness look like ordinary people, but they are variously-gifted spiritual warriors holding the world together.

Exile is a gripping urban fantasy novel of spiritual warfare suitable for adults and young adults. As well as enjoying the read, I was encouraged by Reese’s and April’s challenge to persevere in the darkness instead of giving in to despair. That’s an example I can bring into real-life situations.

Favourite line:

“I don’t pray to get around the plan; I pray to be part of it.” ~Richard, a prayer warrior. [Kindle location 1175]

Exile is free in ebook format from major retailers. Rachel Starr Thomson writes Christian fantasy novels and has also recently released the writing memoir, Left Turn to the Promised Land. For more about the author and her (many) books, visit rachelstarrthomson.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Dark Star, by Creston Mapes

Dark Star, by Creston Mapes (Multnomah, 2005) Dark Star, by Creston Mapes

Rock idol Everett Lester has dragged himself and his band from sordid beginnings to the peak of fame—and into as many excesses and vices as he can find. Through it all, two women hold increasing influence in his life: Endora Crystal, his personal psychic, and Karen Bayliss, a young stranger whose letters say she’s praying for him.

The novel is written in two intertwining threads: Everett’s past leading up to his present, and his present, told in the form of an autobiography written from prison while he’s on trial for murder.

It’s a dark tale of redemption, with elements of spiritual warfare and the occult. Some readers may be uncomfortable with scenes of Endora’s tarot cards in use. She does have power, which Christian readers would recognize as not the power of the occult but the power of the devil working through her.

I found the book a good read, although some aspects of the ending didn’t work for me. What I enjoyed was watching Everett discover the Light and then learn how to live it out as his world fell apart.

I love what Karen says to Everett at one point:

What do you think, that God’s looking at you going ‘Oh my! This Lester is a bad one… I better stay away from him, or he’ll rub off on Me?’ You think you scare Him? You think He doesn’t know your problems or can’t overcome your sin? He’s God, for heaven’s sake. [page 172]

Good message for any of us.No one's too far gone for redemption. If you liked Dark Star, try Heaven's Prey.

Dark Star was Creston Mapes’ first novel, followed by book 2 in the Rock Star Chronicles series, Full Tilt, and a number of Christian suspense novels. For more about the author, visit crestonmapes.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Soul’s Gate, by James L. Rubart

Soul's Gate by James Rubart | Well Spring series, book 1, book review, spiritual warfare, Christian fictionSoul’s Gate, by James L. Rubart (Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson Fiction, 2012)

Years ago, a tragic experience took Reese Roth out of a key role in spiritual warfare. Now, he must train and unite the four people who prophecy says are needed for the coming battle. It doesn’t help that two of them have a previous, unreconciled and painful history.

Soul’s Gate is the first book in the Well Spring series, and the trainees face significant pressure to turn away from the path to spiritual maturity and power. For the most part, even though the novel includes demonic opposition, it feels like a safe read because the trainees have Reese looking out for them. He usually senses their times of crisis and has a word or prayer to help them keep fighting.

It’s a compelling story, but what I most appreciate is the spiritual application to readers’ own lives. The characters experience things we likely never will – it’s fiction, after all – but there is clear (non-preachy) teaching on aspects of spiritual freedom that we can take for ourselves.

Much of the novel deals with the characters learning to recognize and refute the lies of their spiritual enemies, and the lies that they’ve internalized over the years. At one point, they’re challenged to write down every negative name or label that had ever applied to them, and to destroy the list before God, asking Him to give them new names.

There’s an ongoing focus on using Truth to refute and replace the lies. And throughout the novel, we see how spiritual healing and growth is a progression, not an instant fix.

These are things many of us already know, but there’s value in being reminded. Favourite lines (from when Reece asks Brandon a hard question and won’t back down):

“Why are you going for the throat, Reece?”

“Because the throat is where we swallow things. Good and bad. And I think you’ve been swallowing lies.” [Kindle location 2661]

Soul’s Gate won a 2013 Christy Award in visionary fiction and a 2013 INSPY Award for speculative fiction. James L. Rubart is a multi-published novelist, speaker, and consultant. His website says, “No matter where you’re at, I believe you can find life-altering freedom. Getting there is at the heart of all of my novels.” For more about the author and his books, visit jameslrubart.com. Or check out his blog: Going Deeper.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Christian Living in 2015

Can our daily choices actually be spiritual warfare? Read The Battle of 2015 at Other Food: daily devos.

Our choices include what (and if) we believe. I love the opening 2015 post at Beech Croft Tales: Rock Solid.

For more on the challenge to live with the mindset of Christ, read “God’s Word for 2015” at Practical Faith.

And for encouragement that yes, we can make changes in our lives, read Ann Voskamp’s Google+ post.

Janice Dick is starting a new blog series on some of Brother Lawrence’s insights. The first post is Satisfied by God, and I’m looking forward to what she’ll share. Brother Lawrence was a monk in the 1600s, and his words on practicing the presence of God are simple but profound.

As always, you can find spiritual encouragement weekly at Hearing the Heartbeat.

"Nothing binds me to my Lord like a strong belief in His changeless love." ~Charles Spurgeon

This Weapon Changes Hearts

But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.
Romans 8:13b, NLT*

In our spiritual armour, the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God [see Ephesians 6:10-20]. The armour lets us stand our ground against attacks. The sword may even be for taking enemy territory if we’re doing battle for someone.

Today’s verse suggests we can use the sword to cut free of existing bonds or snares, not just to deflect new blows.

I’ve been wielding the sword when I use Bible verses to counter deep-set lies I’ve accepted, but somehow I hadn’t seen it in terms of battle. I just knew I had to use the light of God’s truth to burn away the deception.

God’s been nudging me lately about some attitudes that have to go—attitudes that date back to my early school years and that I thought were pretty well in hand. It turns out they’ve inserted themselves into deeper cover than I’d realized. Prayer and confession and surrender have made a start at eradicating them, but I see now that the truth of the Bible is the single-most effective tool or weapon I have.

Our God, You are holy and just, merciful and abounding in grace. You are so faithful in keeping Your promise to conform us to the image of Your Son, even when we’re slow and even when the stain runs deep. Thank You for the Holy Spirit within us and for the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Make us alert to the individual battles we face. Show us the precise verses to use in our defence. And help us stand firm in You.

Choosing a song for this one was hard! I found a good “change my attitude” song with the Newsboys’ “Breathe” and a good “don’t buy the lies” song with Jonny Diaz’ “More Beautiful You.” If you need one or both, have a listen. They speak to my heart.

But I think the heart of this message (pun intended) is “Change My Heart, Oh God.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Review: The Soul Saver, by Dineen Miller

The Soul Saver cover artThe Soul Saver, by Dineen Miller (Barbour Publishing, 2012)

Sculptor Lexie Baltimore has an unusual spiritual gift: some of her creations are commissioned by God. She wakes in the night with a face and possibly a location in her mind, and sculpts that face before the image fades. That person is her next assignment, someone God wants her to help.

Her husband, Hugh, doesn’t share her faith, and he’s swamped by duties at the university where he’s pursuing tenure. He and Lexie don’t have a lot of common ground anymore. When God sends her to meet an attractive, widowed pastor, is she really on the right path? The spiritual battle that ensues has more at stake than the participants realize.

Lexie is stronger spiritually than many of us, but she’s carrying so much pain (and occasional petulance against God) that she never feels unattainably perfect. She, Hugh, and Pastor Nate are so deeply tangled in their own hurts and perceptions that readers can’t help but care about them.

Part of the ammunition Lexie needs to fight this battle comes from a Bible study she attends for women whose husbands don’t share their faith. This is one of Lexie’s deep hurts, but she’s always thought she was the only one in this position. The friends she makes, and the insights she gains in how she’s been relating to Hugh, may well be the difference between the success and failure of her mission.

Some spiritual warfare novels are scary or borderline horror. Not this one. It’s compelling and hard to put down and I wasn’t keen on reading about the demon character right before bed, but I’d call it a safe read. If you like relationship stories or know someone who’s the only Christian in a marriage, this is a novel for you.

Visit Dineen Miller’s website to watch the book trailer or to read an excerpt from The Soul Saver. Dineen Miller is also the co-author, with Lynn Donovan, of Winning Him Without Words, a non-fiction book on how to thrive in a spiritually unequal marriage.