Saturday, February 4, 2012

Blog Tour: Four Letter Words (Review & Q&A)

How do you know what to say and how to say it, regarding your faith?

Dr. Bill Giovannetti hopes he's come up with the right answer, by creating "Four Letter Words: Conversations on Faith's Beauty and Logic."

The book focuses on topics surrounding these words:
- True
- Know
- Pain
- Ouch
- Evil
- Word
- Damn
- Wait
- Hope

Giovannetti said he wrote Four Letter Words for three goals:
1. Clarity: Know what you believe. 
2. Confidence: Know why you believe. 
3. Courage: Know what to say when you don't know what to say. 

I think he hit the nail on the head. Written in an easy to read format, the manuscript seems to unpack each issue in an easy to follow format.

Each chapter ends with a set of "talking points" designed to help the reader pursue conversations with a friend.

Additionally, this book is one of the first I've seen (Giovannetti believes it is one of the first) QR-enabled book released on the general market.

QR Codes are "postage-stamp" sized boxes with indecipherable patterns inside – Quick Response codes.

Giovannetti said he wanted to make the book an interactive experience. In theory users simply scan the code with a smartphone and it goes straight to relevant videos, audio mp3 and websites.

"Each chapter has a lot more resources on the website (www.fourletterwords.org) which you can reach either through the QR code or just by visiting the site," Giovannetti  said. "The geek-tech stuff in no way overwhelms the written word; it just supplements it. I hope readers like it."

I'll be honest, I think the QR codes are way cool - if they would work on my phone. I have an "old school" iphone, also known as a 3G model. I tried downloading four different QR code readers to see the interactive features. I couldn't make the codes work with any of the readers.

I suspect the inability to work was due to my phone's "age" since one of my students used his iTouch to successfully navigate the QR codes. Fortunately, it appears many of the same features are available on www.fourletterwords.org.

In all, regardless of the stumbles regarding the QR codes, I found this book to be a good resource - not only for youth ministries, but for multi-generations.

On the scale of one to five, I give it a solid three. It looks like a resource I can pass along to a friend who might use it as a sermon series - but it also looks like something I should keep on hand for when my older students have questions.

A Q&A With The Author
What's Four Letter Words about, and where did you get the title? 
Four Letter Words is about defending your faith in Christ. If you've ever felt tongue-tied standing up for Jesus, this book can help. 

Even though our culture claims tolerance as a virtue, that tolerance stops at Christianity's front door: witness the hostility directed toward a sincere Christ-follower like Tim Tebow. Judging by reactions to him, you'd think he just cussed out his grandma when all he did was say a word for Christ. Speaking God's truth and living your faith is quickly becoming today's profanity. Tougher days are coming; we need to get ready. 

There has never been a truth-system more satisfying, consistent, logical and beautiful than Christianity. I wanted to help God's people rise up and say so. 

What four letter words do you write about?
True: who says your truth has to be my truth too? Know: how do you know God is real? Pain, Evil, and Ouch: why doesn't God stop the bad stuff? Damn: how can a loving God send people to hell? 

Word: What makes the Bible so special? Wait: isn't it unreasonable to expect today's people to live by biblical standards of sexuality? Hope: what good has Christianity done in the world? 

The book has ten chapters, discussion questions (in the book and downloadable from the website), and 208 pages. 

Who is this book for? 
This book is for anyone who either struggles with faith or who wants to help friends who struggle with faith. I wrote to strengthen faith and equip believers to share faith. Our church has used this book with high school students, young adults, and senior citizens—it's been really well received across all age groups. Other churches are using it in small groups and youth groups. 

I would love to see this book in the hands of every high school graduate and new college student: they need to be inoculated from the anti-Christian venom they're going to experience. 

Toward the end, Four Letter Words invites readers to faith in Christ so it can be resource for evangelism too.  Discussion questions are included. 

If I read this book, what will get out of it?
I wrote Four Letter Words with three simple goals in mind:  
1. Clarity: Know what you believe. 
2. Confidence: Know why you believe. 
3. Courage: Know what to say when you don't know what to say. 

How did you pick the four letter words for each chapter?
I had a great team working with me to pick the topics. The young adult leadership team from my church hung out with me for a few coffee-shop meetings. We brainstormed ideas. We asked what questions kept surfacing in their relationships with seekers and what issues kept tripping up their conversations about Christ. 

The topics came from them. Each chapter grew out of the real-life struggles of real people in my church. I think this is why the book has connected in some pretty deep ways with readers. 

Would you say that Christians are persecuted? 
Not so much in the U.S., but persecution is definitely coming. It's not that Christians are changing; it's that culture is running from God so fast that yesterday's normal is becoming today's weird. Christians will be increasingly marginalized.

Tell a typical college student he needs to be celibate till marriage and he'll look at you like you're Amish. Why don't you hop in your buggy and trot along. A generation ago, our culture would have supported that value. Today, culture attacks it. It's going to get tougher to stay strong for Jesus. 

We need a new breed of Christ-follower: alert to the beliefs that tick people off, and ready to fire the weapons of truth and grace with courage, compassion, humor, and love. 

More About Four Letter Words:
(From The Publisher)
Thou shalt tolerate every opinion... except the Christian's. Today's postmodern "prime directive" leaves many followers of Jesus tongue-tied. In the global village, isn't it unreasonable, and even dangerous, to suggest that the Bible has a monopoly on truth?

The church needs a new breed of Christ-follower. We need Christ-followers who are alert to today's touchy ideas, the truths that fire up more heat than light. We need Christ-followers who can make a clear case for the Bible's worldview; who are ready to help our friends think through their beliefs; who can recognize inconsistencies and challenge them; and who can do all of this with humility, confidence, humor, and love. For more information visit http://fourletterwords.org.


About The Author
Dr. Bill Giovannetti is a professor at A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary and the senior pastor of Neighborhood Church of Redding. An experienced speaker and author,

Giovannetti informs the mind in ways that touch the heart. He enjoys life with his wife and two kids in northern California.

For more information about Giovannetti and his other books, visit  http://maxgrace.wordpress.com  and http://fourletterwords.org.

Online Resources
Follow the Blog Tour: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13338985
Amazon: http://amzn.to/tF3L3M
Direct from the Author (signed copies) http://maxgrace.1freecart.com
Website:  http://www.fourletterwords.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BillGiovannetti
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/billgiovannetti
Blog: http://www.maxgrace.com

It's A Contest!
Giovannetti is celebrating the new Kindle edition of Four Letter Words (for only $4.99)! He’ll be traveling coast to coast over the next few weeks on this virtual book tour and he's celebrating by hosting a great giveaway!

Click here (http://fourletterwords.org/2012/01/contest-giveaway) to find out how you can win two gift certificates to Amazon (in the amount of $50 and $25) and free downloads of his yet-to-be-released title, Recession-Proof: Living a God-Blessed Life in a Messed Up World.

The whole scoop here: http://fourletterwords.org/2012/01/contest-giveaway/

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group.. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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