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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Going Back Cold by Kelley Rose Waller

Going Back Cold by Kelley Rose Waller is set 110 miles from Antarctica's largest base, McMurdo Station. The start year is 2022. This story spans 4 years, 4 summer seasons at Semotus Base, Antarctica. Semotus Base houses Lucas and Jane Whyse, their son, other scientists and several labs during each 4 month summer stay in the region as they implement their Split Horizon Project of which Jane, a physicist, is the leader. For almost a decade, Lucas and Jane have been working with NASA on their idea of piezoelectric jet propulsion. Piezoelectricity is defined as electric polarization in a substance, especially certain crystals, resulting from the application of mechanical stress. In other words, an electrical field is created when certain crystals are squeezed. Lucas has modified his quartz crystals so that they will produce enough of a surge for faster-than-light travel (FTL) when paired with Jane's capsule design. They are in Antarctica to study the cold temperatures which will hopefully bring them a step closer to simulating the deep freeze of space.

Going Back Cold by Kelley Rose Waller
Going Back Cold Image Used by Permission from Kelley Rose Waller
*Going Back Cold by Kelley Rose Waller was provided by Kelley Rose Waller in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review of the book.

At the beginning of the first summer, Lucas, Jane, and the rest of the crew at Semotus Base have had a few days to acclimate to the Antarctic climate. They are ready to start working. Everything seems to be going as planned until Jane is delivered surprising news . . . very surprising news.

Going Back Cold by Kelley Rose Waller


Having read Kelley Rose Waller's previous novel, The Senator's Youngest Daughter, I expected an exciting level of suspense. As I settled into the story, all of the characters seemed sincere and trustworthy. I kept wondering when I might become suspicious of a character's motives. Then, it happened. I had a character to distrust . . . maybe.

Going Back Cold takes place only a few years in the future. It took me a little bit of time to understand the science in this novel (and there is a lot of it) but once I got the hang of it, I enjoyed the science and the lingering suspense that somewhere, somehow, something is soon going to go very wrong. I hadn't expected a twist in the story that made my heart cry as I remembered my own personal pain from a very similar situation. For a while, Jane's heart and mine were beating to the same rhythm of sadness and grief.

The grief that Lucas and Jane endure brings to surface a truth of which we as believers are sometimes not aware or we choose to ignore. Sometimes our faith is tied to our circumstances. It's easy to trust in God and praise Him when everything is going well. It's easy to have faith in God when your faith has never been truly tested.

Sometimes, when a person's faith is truly tested, not as in a failed test grade after praying to ace it kind of test, but the kind of test that leaves a person so engulfed in agony that he or she can't breath - that kind of test - sometimes after that kind of test, a person might no longer believe in a God who could allow such hurt. Lucas and Jane are scientist. They aren't the kind of scientists who deny the existence of God, but the kind of scientists who KNOW there is a God BECAUSE of what they have learned about the universe through scientific study. Even after tragedy, they believe because "His fingerprints are everywhere they look."
“You just said you still believed,” Lucas pointed out.

“Yes, I do… but it’s not like I could possibly face the universe now thinking no one was in charge and that nothing happened for a reason,” she said sadly. “I understand too much real science to possibly shake the idea that there’s a Creator. His fingerprints are everywhere I look. (Going Back Cold by Kelley Rose Waller)
Another passage revealing the truth that science proves a Creator:
“More than that,” Lucas said. “Science. Science doesn’t surprise me because I know the Creator.”

“That’s a big perspective.”

“I guess,” Lucas replied. “But it’s the only one that makes sense for me. The deeper you get into this stuff, the more obvious God becomes.” (Going Back Cold by Kelley Rose Waller)
Several chapters into the story, I realized that this story is not about a government secret, a spy, a traitor, or government sabotage.  This story is a story about great loss and how we respond.

Although this is a story about loss, it does include a certain degree of suspense. The reader, especially readers who love sci fi stories, will absolutely love the science in Going Back Cold. At first, I thought the science was the main focus, but after a while, I realized that the science of traveling faster than the speed of light and the possibility of time travel were the background stories. The main focus of the story is about dealing with tragic loss. The main focus of the story deals with the popular question about how a loving God could allow such a terrible thing to happen, especially to people who are faithful to Him.

Lucas and Jane must come to terms with accepting God's plan for their life together even if it isn't the plan they had in mind. There was an element of time travel in Going Back Cold that I had never thought about when lining it up with God's plan for the universe. Well, I've never actually tried to line up the idea of time travel with God's plan for the universe but this story made me do that. Even if time travel was actually possible, how could it be right?

In the story, Lucas asks Jane, "Is it OK for us to determine that we are going to redo something that God has already ordained?"

This gives us something to think about in today's reality. The next time I wish I could go back and change something, I'll remember that time belongs to God. He ordains our steps.
The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. - Proverbs 16:9
I have endured 22 years of grief over the same kind of tragedy as Jane and Lucas. At the time, if I could have gone back in time to change the outcome, maybe I would have; but if I had, would I have been living in God's established order? No.

At one point in the story, Jane asked the question, "How can there ever be real hope for tomorrow when today is spoiled by yesterday's heartbreak?"

I think that's a good question and many people whose hearts are suffering might be asking that same thing. We must place our hope in the One who owns all of time and everything in it.

Even when tragedy changes our plan and causes great suffering which might never completely go away, we must trust His plan because even though God does not cause tragedies to happen, He allows them. When He allows hurt, we must endure it knowing that we are living in God's established order.

Lucas and Jane find comfort in a special Bible verse:
The Lord's loving-kindnesses indeed never cease for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23
They learn that it is OK to move forward without moving on.

Candace, another character in the story has a secret of her own. She bears her own heavy burden alone, but must find a path to peace and forgiveness.

With all the sci fi and heavy hurt in this story, I should mention that there is plenty of humor in Going Back Cold as well - suspense, humor, tragedy - all set in front of a background of science fiction excitement.

By the way, I had to look it up but I leaned that piezolectricity is a real thing.

To sum up: Set in front of a background of exciting science fiction, Going Back Cold is a story of the reality of hope, forgiveness, and healing after great hurt. It is a story about a faith that sustains through suffering and a sovereign God who will never leave us.

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Going Back Cold by Kelley Rose Waller
Image Used by Permission from Kelley Rose Waller

Kelley Rose Waller
Kelley Rose Waller
Kelley writes fiction to imagine new life experiences. Her debut novel, The Senator’s Youngest Daughter, was released October 1, 2016. This conservative political thriller pits a young woman and her family against a media tycoon backed by the president of a very different United States.

Kelley’s day job as a marketing strategist offers her the opportunity to write and plan for clients in diverse fields. Kelley and her husband are Pennsylvania foster parents. She lives and writes to uplift and glorify the name of Jesus Christ.

Kelley is a ridiculous fan of science fiction and board games. She has a B.A. in English and lives in Lancaster, PA, with her husband, three sons, and their dog.

Visit Kelley Rose Waller's at:




Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Meaning of Life

Way too many people feel like their lives are meaningless and the suicide rate is alarming.

Do you feel like your life is meaningless?  I'm here to tell you that your life has meaning.


The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon titled "The Meaning of Life."  You are invited to watch, listen and worship with us here.

 
The Meaning Of Life. | September 1, 2019 | Pastor Jeff Crook from Christ Place Church on Vimeo.

Many circumstances might cause you to begin to question the meaning of life, the brevity of it.  Birth, marriage, a stillborn child, loss of a child, a milestone birthday, something else you experience that leaves a huge impact on your life whether it be positive or negative - all of those things (and many others) could cause a person to question the meaning of life.

When we look at the Scriptures, we will find that we inherit meaning and purpose.

What is our aim in life as believers in Jesus?  To glorify God and enjoy Him.

Those who do not have a relationship with Jesus often find themselves asking what more is there to life.  There must be something more.

There is nothing more outside of God.  Nothing makes sense apart from God.
Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good besides You.”
As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
Nor will I take their names upon my lips.
The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. - Psalm 16
We tend to measure our worth based on the people and things around us or a position we hold at work on in our communities.  However, our meaning, our purpose, is nothing apart from God.

As a child of God, every relationship I have is tied to my relationship with the Lord.

We were made by God and for God.

Life is not random.

Life is no accident.

We have purpose and meaning in the Lord.

We usually want these things:

1.  We want to choose the right path in life.
2.  We want to find what makes us happy.
3.  We want the path we are on an the happiness we feel to last.  Take another look at Psalm 16:11

We want joy instead of happiness.  Happiness is circumstantial.  Joy is not. Even when your circumstances are not good, you can still have joy.

Joy in the Lord lasts forever.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. - John 10:10

For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ - Acts 17:28

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Overcomer Movie Review

Overcomer Movie Review

I have waited for Overcomer to hit the theaters for a LONG time.  I am a huge fan of all the Kendrick Brothers' films; in association with Affirm Films, Sherwood Pictures, and Provident Films.  All of the films by the Kendrick Brothers are truly good, quality films.  The first ones were made on a lower budget but the story lines are real.  Each movie deals with real life situations that we all face from time to time.  Each one doesn't hold back the consequences of living a life without Jesus as Lord over it.  I was a fan from the first movie, from day 1, and I'm so happy that these guys and gals have continued to hone in on their gifts and talents as actors, screenwriters, producers, and all things movies, especially faith based films.  I believe God is using them in mighty ways.  Getting these movies in front of audiences takes a huge amount of work and dedication, not just from those directly involved in the movies, but also their families.  I am thankful for their obedience to this calling.  

Introducing Overcomer


John Harrison is the coach of a highschool basketball team with a dream of making it to next season's championship game.  Then, the town's largest manufacturing plant decides to move.  Hundreds of families move away, taking a huge chunk of the basketball team's players with them.  The school not only loses many of its students, but also several teachers including a few coaches.  Coach Harrison is asked to coach the school's Cross Country team.  This "team" only has one player, a girl with asthma.  Her name is Hannah Scott and she has a lot more to overcome than just asthma.

Hannah's parents have both passed away.  She's being raised by her grandmother who is away from home most of the time because she works two jobs to make ends meet.  Hannah must deal with some of her own life choices.  She could continue down the path she is going, continuing to make choices that lead to destruction or she could allow herself to be positively influenced by her high school cross country coach and her principal who is an old friend of her mother's.

Cross Country proves to be a vessel of life lessons for both Hannah and Coach John Harrison. 

Overcomer is about finding our identity in Christ.  While watching the movie, one particular scene struck me as particularly powerful.  While Coach Harrison and his pastor are visiting a church member in the hospital, Harrison stumbles into the room of another patient, Thomas.  The meeting is a bit awkward at first, but Harrison tells Thomas he will pray for him and then goes on his way with his pastor.  Later on, Harrison revisits Thomas.  The two form an unlikely bond.  During one of Harrison's visits, Thomas asked Harrision, "Who are you?"

Harrison's first response is, "I'm a coach."

Thomas then asked, "If you take that away, who are you?"

Harrison's next response is, "I'm a history teacher."

Thomas presses on, "If you take that away, who are you?"

Harrison continues to respond as he narrows down his identity, "I'm a husband and father."

Finally, when there seems to be nothing left, he says, "Well . . . I'm a Christian."

Thomas' next question is the gut-puncher, "Why was that so far down your list?"

If I had been watching this movie at home, I would have clicked the pause button because that question forced me to ask myself, "If someone asks me, out of the blue and without warning, 'Who are you?' what would I have said?"

How far down the list would I have gone before saying, "I'm a Christian?"

Then, I asked myself another question, "Is my identity in Christ evident to others without them having to ask?"

Thomas wisely tells Coach Harrison and it's a statement we should all take to heart, "Your identity will be whatever you tie your heart to."

Overcomer Movie Review

What do you tie your heart to?  In whom or in what do you find your identity?

Do you find your identity in Christ?  If you are a born-again Christian, you should find your identity in Jesus.  If you are not a born-again Christian, here is how you can become one.

Overcomer Movie Review

Back to the movie, as Coach Harrison is discovering who he is in Christ, so is Hannah.  In order to avoid any spoilers, you'll have to watch the movie to see how her life is transformed, but I can assure you that you will enjoy watching the lives of Hannah and Coach Harrison transform from the beginning to the end of this movie.  There are several other things I wish I could write about here but I don't want to spoil it for you.

If you are a Cross Country runner, don't shy away from this film.  You'll love it.  My daughter is a former Cross Country runner and she said this movie is her favorite Kendrick Brothers' film yet.

Overcomer is now showing in select theaters.  Watch the Overcomer official movie trailer below.  Then, go see it at the theater!  We need to support films like this one so we can show filmmakers that we want more good stuff with wholesome real life content as opposed to the trash they keep spitting out of Hollywood.

OK, watch the trailer, buy your ticket, and go see it!

 

Want to know what others are saying?  Find out what ministry leaders are saying here.

If I'm asked to pick a favorite of all the Kendrick Brothers' films, it would be next to impossible.  The later films are better quality due to higher budgets, but every single film has its own appeal.  I love them all.

If you are just learning about these films, you'll want to check out all the Kendrick Brothers' previous movies.  Notice the theme of each film.

Flywheel - living a life of integrity.
Facing the Giants - trusting God through life's hardest trials.
Fireproof - building your marriage on a foundation of faith, staying married, - never leave your partner in a "fire."
Courageous - fatherhood the way God intended it.
War Room - the power of prayer.
Overcomer - finding your identity in Christ.

Watch the Flywheel official movie trailer here.

Watch the Facing the Giants official movie trailer here.

Watch the Fireproof official movie trailer here.

Watch the Courageous official movie trailer here.

Watch the War Room official movie trailer here.

and now, Overcomer!

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Overcomer Movie Review

Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway