Tag Archives: One Way Books

Footsteps of St. Peter – The Gospel Years by Mac McConnell

McConnell, Mac.  Judean Chronicles – Book II.  Footsteps of St. Peter:  The Gospel Years.  Ft. Lauderdale: OneWay Books, 2010. 146 pp. $12.95. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

I have reviewed all of Mac’s books here. To get an idea of Mac’s ministry, watch this short video.

Summary

In this second volume of three in the Judean Chronicles series, McConnell traces the personality of the Apostle Peter through what we know of him in the gospels found in the Bible. What is different is that this book is told completely from Peter’s perspective which includes his fiery personality.  The book ends as Jesus and His disciples are making their way toward Jerusalem.

Review

I offer no apologies for saying that I am one of Mac’s biggest fans.  I have thoroughly enjoyed his writing style and offering a different perspective of some of the more well-known events, peoples, and stories found in the Bible.  In this work, you still have Peter’s fiery personality.  You see his struggle with his skepticism of who Jesus really is even though he is an eyewitness to all the miracles.

I do have a couple problems with this book, however.  Both of them take place on a two-page spread.  On page 100, McConnell places a French Proverb in the mouth of Jesus when Christ says, “Sometimes a man meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” This is a great saying but is not biblical at all. The French poet, Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695) is credited as the source of this statement. My problem is that we all too often allow other religious statements to be baptized as Christian though they have no biblical warrant whatsoever.

The second problem is on page 101 where Peter hears Jesus praying in a language that he did not understand. This is only a problem for me because this is a debatable doctrinal point. Again, this is only a problem because of the debate that rages in Christendom regarding speaking in tongues and private prayer language.

Regardless, the book ends on a very high note with the exhortation to His disciples that they will need rest. In addition to ending well, the story told from Peter’s perspective is interesting and will cause the reader to pause and consider.

Recommendation

I can recommend this book based upon the story and the content of Mac’s ministry even though I have a major problem with the French poet quote being placed in the mouth of Christ. I still enjoy the work by Mac and will recommend the series (and all his other books) highly. When I come to this particular book, however, I will offer the caveat found above on pages 100-101.

Joseph by Mac McConnell

McConnell, Mac.  Joseph: A Father’s Journey.  Ft. Lauderdale:  OneWay Books, 2009.  130 pp.  $12.95.  Purchase at Amazon for $11.01 or less.  Purchase for Kindle for $9.99.

Introduction

By this point, Mac McConnell needs no introduction.  If, however, you do not know about his ministry yet, please check out my past reviews on all of Mac’s books or check out his ministry webpage, One Way BooksJoseph is the third book in the Cradle to the Cross Trilogy.

Summary

Joseph is about the step-father (the earthly father) of Jesus.  We find a young Joseph looking to follow in his own father’s footsteps in the carpenter’s trade.  He meets a young girl named Mary.  They are set to get married when she disappears for a time.  Upon finding out that she is pregnant, Joseph wrestles with whether or not to divorce her.  We know from Scripture that he does not.  In this novel, they answer the “problem” by moving the wedding day up.

When the census is called, Joseph and Mary head to Bethlehem to be counted.  Here, they meet up with an Inn owner named Hadad who allows them to stay in the manger outside his inn.  Once the child is born, Joseph and Mary stay in Bethlehem for two years before being led by the Spirit to leave for Egypt.

Review

Though this was the last of the three books in the Cradle to the Cross trilogy to be written, I believe it should be the first to be read.  Joseph ends with the family leaving for Egypt while Hadad and Bozra follow the life of this child to the point of His death.  Joseph really sets up the entire trilogy in my estimation.

Also, I have given nothing but high praises for Mac’s work through his novels.  That has not changed with Joseph though I do have some criticisms.  For example, I struggled with the way in which Mac portrayed Joseph as understanding who this child really was.  Joseph seemed to know what young Yeshua’s mission in life was to be.  I am not sure why, but that really bothered me as I was reading.  I kept having to tell myself that this was artistic license and nothing more, but even so, I found it to be somewhat difficult.

His handling of the pregnancy by the Holy Spirit was interesting though not unrealistic.  Even so, I struggled with that as well.  I am not sure why this struggle since the Bible never does speak to any of these issues per se.  I did find, however, that of the four books I have already reviewed, this was the one that stretched me the furthest.  That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and wished I had read it first in the trilogy.

Recommendation

Yes, even though I struggled some with the reading of Joseph, I still highly recommend this book.  If you are looking to read all three books in the Cradle to Cross Trilogy, I would suggest you start with Joseph and then move to Hadad and then read Bozra as it is in that order in the gospel narratives that we meet each character.  If you are able to allow for artistic license, even with men from the Bible, then this series promises to be one you will enjoy over and over.

Forever Changed by Mac McConnell

McConnell, Mac. Forever Changed: A Journey in Jericho. Ft. Lauderdale: One Way Books, 2006. 130 pp. $12.95. Purchase at Amazon for $2.67 or less and on Kindle.

Introduction

Mac McConnell is no stranger now at Christian Book Notes. This is in large part because I just discovered him as an author and am getting caught up on everything he has written and passing that information on to you. This particular book is about every child’s favorite Bible story character—Zacchaeus.

Summary

We see how a young Zacchaeus winds up becoming a tax collector and how he quickly learns to be one of the best. It ain’t too hard to make some extra money for his own pockets, either. One month he goes to Jericho to collect the taxes that are due only to find that the blind man can’t pay, the one lady lost just had her young son die, and the other lady’s husband is a raving lunatic who is completely out of his mind. He grants thirty days grace on the taxes.

Upon his return he discovers that the blind man can now see, the raving lunatic actually is in his right mind and is able to hold down a regular job, and the little boy that was dead is now alive. What is more, everyone is more than willing to pay all that is due Zacchaeus! Everyone keeps telling him about this Yeshua guy which piques the curiosity of the little man.

Zacchaeus hears that he is coming so he climbs up a tree just to catch a look at this man only to find that Yeshua is looking for him. You know the rest of the story.

Review

First, it must be noted that this is a work of historical fiction and that there is much artistic license used by Mac. This is alright since he does not violate what we do know from the Scriptures. If I struggled with anything it was that all those who were healed in this book (and in the Bible) were placed along one street. For some reason, I struggled with that. As I tried to figure out why, I realized that it was my own preconceived notions and geographic mapping in my head. It had nothing to do with the story and it most certainly was not a violation of Scripture.

Recommendation

Forever Changed adds depth and character to a story with which so many are already familiar. I greatly enjoyed the story and could actually “see” the Zacchaeus of the Bible really come to life. I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to reading it with my boys in the evenings.

This little book stands alone as a book by itself. It does not have a companion as does Bozra, Hadad, or Joseph which comprise the Cradle to the Cross Trilogy. Forever Changed is an excellent family read aloud or just a fun read for children and parents. Read it and see for yourself.

Hadad by Mac McConnell

McConnell, Mac. Hadad: The Innkeeper’s Journey. Ft. Lauderdale: One Way Books, 2008. 128 pp. $12.95. Purchase at Amazon for $9.54 or less. Kindle edition for $7.99.

Introduction

Mac McConnell is no stranger to Christian Book Notes these days. You can read my reviews of his books here. Hadad is about the innkeeper in Bethlehem that housed a young family needing a place to rest for the night for the young wife was about to deliver her child.

You can learn more about Mac and his ministry at OneWayBooks.org or BibleActor.com

Summary

Hadad is a bar keeper who is struggling to find meaning and purpose to his life. He loves his wife even if she is a bit eccentric at times. He stumbles on a great way to have the best beer in town by storing it under the bar in a dug out cave—cold(er) beer allows him to charge a bit extra. Still, the business is dwindling down to nothing until Caesar calls for a census one year. Suddenly, his business takes off and he can’t keep up with the demand.

With every hotel full in a 50 mile radius, including Hadad’s, he is visited by this family that had been traveling for some time. He attempts to tell them to leave, but quickly notices that the young bride is with child and is about to deliver it on his front step! He quickly puts them up in the stable behind the inn.

With the birth of this child comes a major change in his life. Something about this kid is different. All Hadad knows is that he loves this child in a way that he never thought he could.

Thirty years after the child and his parents fled for their lives, Hadad hears rumors of this man, Yeshua. He never sees him again, but does come to the realization just who this Yeshua may have been.

Review

Taking a man from the scriptures with a bit part (1/3 of a verse in the entire Bible, see Luke 2:7), Mac shares the impact of the Christ child on the every day common man. The story is believable and never commits the sin of ripping Scripture out of context. Rather, Mac builds on the implied impact of the person of Christ on the life of everyone.

There is an element of artistic license that must be understood when reading these novellas, but that does not take away from the central message. That is, that the person of Christ has a lasting impact on those who want to know Him more.

Recommendation

Mac is to once again be commended for writing such an entertaining story from the perspective of a by-stander so to speak. Hadad will certainly inform you reading of “there was no place for them in the inn.” I warn you, however, that you are not able to read just Hadad. You will have to read the entire trilogy as they all bleed into one another.

Do yourself a favor and pick up your copy of all of Mac’s books and enjoy reading them either to yourself or as a family read aloud.

Footsteps of St. Peter by Mac McConnell

McConnell, Mac.  Judean Chronicles – Book 1.  Footsteps of St. Peter: The Early Years. Ft. Lauderdale:  OneWay Books, 2010.  146 pp.  $12.95.  Purchase at Amazon for $12.95 or less.

Introduction

Mac McConnell is the founder of One Way Productions.  Check out this video to better understand what Mac’s ministry is about:

Summary

This particular book, Footsteps of St. Peter: The Early Years, takes a look at the apostle Simon Peter before his encounter with Jesus Christ. You will learn what life was like on the Sea of Galilee as the young boy, Simon, grows up wanting to be like his dad–a fisherman of great respect.

After a tragic accident, Simon is forced to grow up quicker than he imagined. Along the way, you will get a feel for how Simon Peter’s fiery personality was forged. He does become a master fisherman and ship builder but soon realizes there might be more to this life than being on fishing boat for years.

Review

When I was asked to read this book and possible write a blurb for the back of the book, I was both excited and skeptical. I told Mac, the author, that I was not much for historic fiction especially when it comes to matters of the Bible. Far too many writers, in the name of “art” have maligned the message of the gospel in order to sell books. At any rate, I agreed to read the book.

I am no longer skeptical of Mac’s writing. While Footsteps of St. Peter is historic fiction, there is absolutely nothing negates what we do know about Peter from the Bible. If anything, through Mac’s masterful telling of a story, we find that Simon Peter was a real human being just like you and me. He had his struggles early in life in relying on self and trying to please his fellow man (Don’t we all?), but we know from our reading of the Bible that Jesus Christ did save the man from himself and even used him to advance the kingdom in mighty and miraculous ways.

I was impressed with how he drew from a 1st century Palestinian culture and adapted it with a touch of 21st century life. His vivid word pictures bring the region where Christ walked to life in our mind’s eye.

Recommendation

I am hooked on Mac’s ministry. His books, what we are primarily concerned with here at Christian Book Notes, are an excellent way in which we can meditate on our need for Christ. His ability to tell the story of Peter before he met Christ offered great insight into the grace and mercy Jesus showed in calling Peter as an apostle and forgiving him of his sins.

You would do well to purchase Footsteps of St. Peter as well as his Cradle to Cross Trilogy (I will be posting reviews on these books as well). You will want to give these books as gifts to your friends–trust me.

Bozra by Mac McConnell

McConnell, Mac. Bozra: A Shepherd’s Journey. One Way Books, 2007. 130 pp. $12.95. Purchase at Amazon for $12.99 or less. Available for Kindle for $9.99.

Introduction

Mac McConnell sold his art business to go on the road in order to spread the good news of Jesus Christ through live one-man dramas. While having trotted the globe in that endeavor, the Lord has led him to write a series of historical fiction novellas published by One Way Books. Bozra is part of a trilogy looking at those touched by the very gospel we as believers proclaim.

Summary

Bozra is a shepherd boy who grows into a man during the first thirty-five years of what we now know as the first century A.D. Bozra wants more than anything to prove to his family that he is a capable shepherd. He gets his chance one night when the rest of the family, after having seen a vision of angels, determines to go visit a baby in Bethlehem. Bozra sees his opportunity to prove his worth to the family and implores his father to stay with the sheep.

A couple years later, one of Bozra’s brothers returns from a trip to Jerusalem with blood on his clothes. Bozra realizes he just missed yet another event of importance taking place in Bethlehem. After growing up and getting married, Bozra suddenly feels the need to go into Jerusalem during the holiest of weeks…Passover. Once again, he quickly realizes he missed out on another major event in the life of this child whom the angels rejoiced in that very first night when he proved himself a worthy shepherd. Does Bozra ever meet this boy/man, Yeshua? You will have to read and find out.

Review

I was more than enamored by this book. Mac offers a vivid description of what shepherding was like in first century Palestine. While Bozra is a fictitious shepherd, he is very much the typical shepherd going about his trade and life during the events of Jesus’ life. You learn how the shepherds reacted to Christ’s teachings through their meetings. You get a feel for what life was like on the fringe of the greatest event(s) to ever take place between “In the beginning” and the Second Coming of our Lord.

The mastery in telling Bozra’s story without ever touching the Scripture is, in my estimation, nothing short of amazing. All throughout Bozra’s life, you have an idea of what is going on in Jerusalem with this man, Yeshua. This is not because Mac filters in Scripture. Rather, it is because you, the reader, are familiar with Scripture.

For example, while we are familiar with Matthew 2:16-18 (the killing of children by Herod), you will never read those three verses the same again once you have read what happened to Jeheil, his brother, on his trip into Jerusalem. The vivid imagery wrenched my soul and made me realize that I had never really read Matthew 2:16-18 for all of its horrible glory.

Recommendation

When I first talked with Mac, I told him I was highly skeptical of historical fiction when it came to biblical characters and that I would probably be more critical than not in my review. I could not have been more wrong!

(NOTE: As a book reviewer, one must hold the author’s of Christian books to a higher standard since they are attempting to guide fellow believers through Christian principles and practices. Some books that come across my desk never make it to the “write the review” pile.)

I am happy to say that I have found a new favorite author, and the only favorite author I have in this genre, of historical fiction. I now have all five books written by Mac McConnell and will review them as I read them. I was even blessed to be able to write a blurb for the back of his next book, Footsteps of St. Peter: The Early Years.

If you are a skeptic like I was (am?), then do yourself a favor and purchase a copy of this book. If you don’t like it (highly unlikely) let me know and I will buy it from you (I can only afford a limited number!). If you do like it (love it!) you thank me. You will then want others to read it and enjoy the experience as much as you did.