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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building a goldy ministry or building a personal legacy?
What happens when a pastor builds a church in his own power and for his own glory, instead of keeping the focus on the leading of God? The results can be disastrous, both for the shepherd and for his flock...and Francine Rivers' And the Shofar Blew (Tyndale House) illustrates this vividly.
Francine Rivers is one of my favorite authors, and this book reminded me just...
Published on Jan. 12 2004 by Amazon Customer

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3.0 out of 5 stars For whom does the Shofar blow?
Although I've been a Christian for years, I'm kind of new to the Christian fiction genre. This was the first book by Francine Rivers I've read. I just finished "Shofar," and I'm scratching my head over it. Who is this book for? Rivers writes with real conviction -- obviously she feels her message deeply. But I'm afraid the people who most need the message of...
Published on Sept. 16 2003


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building a goldy ministry or building a personal legacy?, Jan. 12 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (Rockford, Illinois) - See all my reviews
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
What happens when a pastor builds a church in his own power and for his own glory, instead of keeping the focus on the leading of God? The results can be disastrous, both for the shepherd and for his flock...and Francine Rivers' And the Shofar Blew (Tyndale House) illustrates this vividly.
Francine Rivers is one of my favorite authors, and this book reminded me just why that's so. It's been a while since I read one of Francine's books. Once I obtained a copy of this one, I plunged in headfirst and came up for air only when absolutely necessary.
As a pastor's daughter married to a pastor's son, I can tell you firsthand that a pastor's life is a difficult one, and the same goes for his wife and children. If the pastor's focus on the Lord wavers--if his desire to build a ministry shifts to personal ambition and a need to create a monument to his own glory and legacy--everyone suffers.
As the story begins, we see Centreville Christian Church literally dying...peopled with a handful of senior citizens who are weary or ill or both. The hero of the book, to my mind, is Samuel...the aging elder whose godly wisdom and steadfast devotion to the Lord and His Word form the anchor for all of the characters and action in the book. When the elderly pastor suffers a serious health crisis and has to retire, Samuel persuades his crusty fellow elders that the church should go on, but with a new pastor.
Enter Paul Hudson. Young, bright, enthusiastic, and full of energy and ideas, Paul hits the ground running. But he carries his own heavy baggage in that he is the son of a famous pastor of a megachurch...a father who never had time for him and whose approval he can never quite earn. Early on, he begins to run roughshod over anyone who stands in the way of his ambition, ignoring and even resenting Samuel's wise and godly counsel.
We sympathize with Paul's wife Eunice, who suffers mostly in silence as she watches her husband slowly turn into a copy of his dad. Some reviewers have critized Eunice's inaction and ultra-submissiveness, but I've seen many such pastors wives--lovely and godly women who are simply trying to please God despite their husband's increasing neglect and even cruelty. I don't believe this makes Eunice a less appealing character; as a reader, I found myself drawn to her and hurting for her.
Eventually, though, even Eunice has to take a stand as matters come to a tragic head. The story is truly a cautionary tale about what happens when a pastor's zeal for the ministry becomes a quest for personal glory and validation.
A subplot about Stephen Decker, a contractor who becomes caught up in Paul Hudson's ambition, is interesting, but was sometimes a bit distracting as I found myself more concerned with what was happening with Paul, Eunice, their son Timothy, and Paul's parents.
Also, I would have to agree with the reviewers who were a bit skeptical of Paul's sudden change of heart. Damascus Road experiences do happen, but the turnaround can include massive struggles. I would have liked to have perhaps seen Rivers write a sequel in which she dealt with the aftermath of Paul's repentance.
But those a minor criticisms. Overall, an excellent and absorbing read that packs a powerful message.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but troubling, June 21 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
This was my first Francine Rivers' book and I found it riveting, but also troubling. I found myself wondering about how many pastors today find themselves in the same predicament as Paul Hudson. They get so wrapped up in buildings, numbers of people attending and financial matters, that they lose the focus of their ministry. I also wondered how many pastors' wives and families are suffering this same torture as Eunice and Timmy at the hands of a dictatorial husband/father who is too busy trying to grow the church that he forgets to nurture his own family. The characters of Samuel and Abby set such a wonderful example of what a true christian should be . I think this should be required reading for all people entering the ministry. Though it is fiction, there is sadly, a lot of truth contained in it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Origination, Separation, Restoration, March 27 2004
By 
James Mershon (Norfolk, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
Isn't it amazing what a prayer can do? Throughout the novel, Francine Rivers used an innovative writing technique that enabled we the readers to examine the minds and thoughts of the characters as they lifted up countless prayers to God as different situations unfolded, simultaneously reiterating a forgotten duty - to pray without ceasing. Weaved in and through each family represented in the story, Rivers slowly, but in just the right timing, unfolds God's "vision" for each of them, and by God's grace and patience, long suffering and love, showered upon just the right people at the right time, we witnessed the Lord's uncompromising promises come to fruition. One family in particular witnessed to me, and that was the relationship between Stephen Decker, his daughter Brit, and his ex-wife Kat. From desolation to delight, how amazing is God's love as a once broken family reunites, solely by the grace of God. Just like a cat, they land back on their feet by story's end. Returning to God's origination of dignity, purpose, and equality; fleeing from Satan's attempts at separation through fear, shame, unforgiveness; accepting Christ's restoration through peace, forgiveness, and relationship. We see this in the way the Lord began weaving Stephen's pursuits from building the "Majestic" of his dreams to considering priesthood, learning compassion, he showers patience, peace, and unconditional love upon his ex-wife and daughter; reuniting Brit's ambitions from rebellion, to establishing relationship with her father, her new friend Jake, and interestingly, I forsaw a hope that her relationship with her mother would one day be reestablished; and finally, bringing Kat's self-centered lifestyle to repentance, as she returns to God's origination for herself and her family, treating herself and them with dignity, purpose, and equality. A lesson for us all!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Truth, March 21 2004
By 
James Mershon (Norfolk, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
One of the realizations of this book that drew me in deeper was the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, opening my eyes to the forgotten truth - Jesus Christ. This realization brought to life through the lives of Samuel and Abby. I like how Samuel and Abby drew in Stephen Decker into the Wednesday evening Bible study. It truly opened Decker's eyes to experience the scriptures in a more abundant way - moving from milk to meat. I look around the "church" today and see the stories and lessons of the Bible heading toward distinction because they don't relate to the modern times. Too many "other" things seem to be interfering with the simple truth like 20-acre, ground-breaking picnics, 4-bedroom homes, and new cars, as revealed in this novel. In a word: clutter! I was intrigued how Francine Rivers weaved the various plots together forming a foundational truth that we would be wise not to lose sight of. A foundational truth that Paul Hudson's congregation began to lose sight of. A contemporary Christian group wrote a song that talks about the problems facing Paul Hudson's newly arising congregation - in a lyric, "A traveler quietly slips into the back row...but the weight of their judgmental glances, tells him that his chances, are better out on the road...If we are the body, why aren't his arms reaching..." I believe God is using people like Francine Rivers to awaken His people to the truth that is, Himself. 'And the Shofar Blew' is yet another eye-opening, heart-opening reality that spoke to my soul - indefinitely. I believe the Lord is preparing to usher us in to the grand wedding, and the "Shofar" is sounding in our souls, like in Eunice Hudson's soul, if we'll just let Him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! A Must Read!, Oct. 17 2003
By 
Cecelia Dowdy (Greenbelt, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
When Paul Hudson is called to save a dying church, he takes on the job, bringing his wife Eunice and his young son with him. However, Paul's vengeance for saving souls is overcome with his desire to increase his church membership, and to make his coffers grow with tithes. Paul's sermons lose their spiritual message as he preaches in a way that would not offend non-believers. Soon he finds himself catering to the richer patrons of his church, and he enjoys "kissing up" to the upper crust of society in the small town. His wife Eunice is disheartened when her husband no longer preaches the gospel, and their marriage suffers greatly. When he has an affair with a parishioner, Eunice leaves her husband, and Paul chases after her, not wanting her to reveal the information about his affair to the parishioners. Meanwhile, Paul's relationship with his son has deteriorated so much that his son leaves home, to live with Paul's mother. Paul's son has always felt that his father has placed the needs of his church and his parishoners above the needs of his own family, and he feels unwanted, unloved, and slighted by his father's hypocritical behavior. A sudden event happens near the end of the story and it forces Paul to realize the mistakes he's made over the last twenty years of his life. He almost dies and he struggles to make amends with his mother, his wife, and his now nineteen-year-old son. Although the book was excellently written, I found it hard to believe the ending. It seemed too quick, and unbelievable, but the book itself was a good, exciting read, and I kept turning the pages until I'd reached the end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, Oct. 10 2003
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
This book is about a minister who takes a dying church and builds it up. Unfortunately, Paul, the minister, gets overly ambitious and tries to follow in the footsteps of his father. As a result, he goes about building the church up in the wrong way, by watering down the Bible and catering to the congregation and what they want to hear, instead of what they should be hearing. He hurts many people along the way, such as Samuel, Stephen, his wife, his son, and his mother, until finally, everything comes crashing down around him.
Francine Rivers does an excellent job of describing what can happen to a church and its people if the person leading is not following God. She goes into great detail describing the pain of Paul's family and friends as a result of his actions. I like how she gives the background of Paul's father and how his father has strongly influenced Paul's actions.
There were a couple of flaws in this book, however, which is the reason I can't give the book 5 stars.
First, where did Eunice grow up: Pennsylvania or Kentucky? I thought she mentioned that Eunice grew up in the hills of Kentucky, but then, later in the book, she mentioned that Eunice grew up in the hills of PA and that she even ran away there towards the end of the book. I know that Samuel and Abby lived in Kentucky, so maybe she got the 2 confused.
Also, how did Paul's father die? There wasn't a lot of explanation there, other than he died traveling to do something that he loved. I think she mentioned an accident, but that didn't come out too clearly in the book.
Like some of the reviewers here, I would have liked to have seen the book expanded another 100 pages to describe the reconciliation process between Paul and Eunice, and all the people he hurt. It seemed that it all happened too quick. It would have been interesting to see Paul and Eunice in marriage counseling, where Eunices gets right down to all the rage she's feeling, and also, for Paul to examine his relationship with his father and how it influenced his decisions.
All in all, this book was well written. I would highly recommend this, especially to all preachers, church leadership, and their families.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I've Been There...I Know!, Sept. 29 2003
By 
Eric Wilson "author" (Nashville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
I love quality fiction, and I love the church...But I've also seen tame, watered-down versions of both. As a former PK (preacher's kid), I've seen just about everything that happens in this book. I wasn't sure, though, if Francine Rivers would get honest and get to the heart of the issues plaguing ministers and the modern church.
Wow! She nails issue after issue on the head. And she does so in the midst of a captivating story with believable characters. We follow the tale of a small church that, in its dying hours, brings in a new pastor and his family. Soon, the congregation is growing and things are looking great--from the outside. From the inside, however, from the eyes of the pastor's wife and son and his elders, the problems are growing in proportion to the church's "success." The tale, spanning 15+ years, shows many of sacrifices and deceits expounded in the name of "serving God." None of the characters go unscathed.
A previous reviewer asked who this book was written for. First, it is a challenge to those who cater to such shallow faith. Second, it is an encouragement to those who have struggled through this and thought they were alone. Third, it is for those who enjoy a well-told tale. Yes, it is full of christian lingo and platitudes, but Rivers draws a line between the genuine and the counterfeit. Believe me, most non-churchgoers can tell the difference quickly.
While heartbreaking at times, this is stuff that needs to be brought to light. Rivers has won my respect with a story full of wisdom, grace, and God's honest truth.
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3.0 out of 5 stars For whom does the Shofar blow?, Sept. 16 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
Although I've been a Christian for years, I'm kind of new to the Christian fiction genre. This was the first book by Francine Rivers I've read. I just finished "Shofar," and I'm scratching my head over it. Who is this book for? Rivers writes with real conviction -- obviously she feels her message deeply. But I'm afraid the people who most need the message of this book probably never will read it.
Rivers is careful to weave a gospel message into her book. And I appreciate the fact that she wants to communicate living truth in this fiction format. But she also fills the book with church-isms and Christian-speak that might be offputting to a reader outside the church -- someone who might benefit the most from the gospel message.
The story itself is somewhat predictable, but it has a merry way of pulling you along and keeping you turning the pages. The unfolding relationship between Eunice and Stephen was intriguing and kept me glued to the page. My biggest complaint with the characters is that some seem quite one-sided (Paul in particular). I appreciated and learned from the characters that showed more of a struggle -- Samuel especially. I found a lot to admire in Samuel.
Really -- I guess my concerns are less about Francine Rivers' writing, and more about the genre of Christian fiction itself. Who's it for? Who's it helping? What's the point? After reading this book, and carefully considering these questions, I have no idea what the answer might be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book, Aug. 26 2003
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
I loved this book. What shouted at me throughout the whole book was how a parent can wound a child by saying one thing yet communicating another message by the way they live. Actions speak louder than words. Francine Rivers carefully and skillfully develops the painful relationship between Paul's father who is a famous, charismatic and successful pastor and himself and how the things not said to him, as well as the hurtful words said by his father, wounded him and drove him to compete with and strive for his father's approval and acceptance for years. Sure Paul was a pastor and loved the Lord, but if we don't guard the painful areas of our lives and continually take them to the Lord, we will allow them to lead us to do things that are off the path from what God wants. As much as Paul hated what his dad did to him, he unknowingly did the same thing to his son...he drove him away from himself and the God he served. As in real life, God didn't let his son wander far from Him, but through prayer, the love of other Believers and circumstances, God showed him that He was real and worthy of serving.
Another truth that stood out was the power of prayer. His wife, mother and friends prayed for years as they watched him helplessly fall away from the commitment and convictions he held. Sure, people tried to tell him, but the enemy is a deceiver and liar and blinds us to the truth and some won't listen to others. Only God can turn a person back.
This book encouraged me to hold onto the truth of the Scriptures no matter what it costs.... People, today, want to hear a watered down gospel message that makes them feel comfortable. Also, I am encouraged to believe in the power of prayer to change people's lives, no matter how long it takes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Almost impossible to put down..., Aug. 8 2003
By 
Soozie4Him (Chicago suburbs) - See all my reviews
This review is from: And the Shofar Blew (Hardcover)
When people say they couldn't put a book down, I always wonder... It seems to be an overused cliche, but in the case of this book, it was true for me! This book is the story of a pastor and his family and what happens when he seeks glory for himself rather than drawing people to Christ.
His wife seems almost too perfect, however, putting up with SO much for SO long. As the pastor gets rid of the godly Christian people in the church and brings in his yes-men, the church drifts farther and farther from the Lord. The pastor falls deeper into sin and eventually does repent and turns his life around.
The one major failing of this book, in my opinion, is that Rivers should've spent more time on what happens after the pastor repents and tries to reconnect with his family. It seems that this part is condensed in the interest of space, perhaps. I would've liked to see more detail to this part of the book and wouldn't mind if the book were 100 pages longer to accomplish this. I'd love to see a sequel, but I doubt there will be one.
Despite this criticism, I give this book 5 stars - it is a must-read! Please check out my other reviews and God bless you!
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