Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Champions in the Wilderness by Bob Santos

Champions in the Wilderness Front Cover.jpg
          I like the Bible. and when I read Christian books, I like it when they take their thoughts from the Bible, rather than trying to find scriptures to confirm their thoughts, as the current trend is in today's Christian books and in many pulpits also. So, when I began reading Champions in the Wilderness by Bob Santos, I found myself comforted by the Biblical emphasis the author takes in this book, which is a 52 lesson devotional that I believe you will find beneficial in helping you navigate through seemingly dry spots, confusing spots and sometimes even painful periods in your walk with God. Rather than provide a step by step map through the wilderness periods of the Christian life, the book will serve as more of a guidebook along the terrain that you will travel, teaching you what you will likely encounter, and how to navigate it successfully.
          Perhaps you've never heard of Bob Santos. But as you read Champions in the Wilderness, you'll get to know hin a little better. Bob was born-again in 1980 while in college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and later served on the same campus for 16 years in ministry to college students. In 2006, he and his wife Debi launched Search For Me Ministries. He writes from a wealth of experience as both a Christian serving Jesus faithfully and as a full time minister. Many stories from his own life and ministry are woven throughout the book. He is candidly honest but challenging in his lessons and they will cause you to look inside yourself and be open for examination, while looking inside the Bible for answers.
          The book has four sections, focusing the lessons on understanding your journey, faith, security and purpose. The chapters are short, normally with a Bible reading, quote and lesson. These are followed by probing questions, action steps, a closing prayer and further reading. I was able to read through the material quickly so that I might blog about it, but I do not recommend that approach. Take the time to read the material, answer the questions, take the steps, pray the prayer and read further. Though there are 52 lessons, I think a small group would benefit from the material.                
          Finally, there are a couple of places where I felt the lesson could have been supported better by a different scripture reference, but not many of them. But this did not hinder the points from getting across. I received this book free through the book review program for bloggers at www.bookcrash.com and was not required to write a positive review. You may purchase this book at http://www.amazon.com. To the author I say, good job Mr. Santos, I look forward to reading any works you might produce in the future.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The New Answers Book 4 by Ken Ham

              There are several subjects in the world which can ignite debate rather quickly. One of the prominent topics that can be found on that list is the subject of evolution. While some may claim that this debate is fueled only by the sides of Christians vs. non-Christians, the lines are not that distinct, as there are many non-Christians who profess non-evolutionary views, and even many Christians who believe that the earth evolved as part of Gods creation. But, whichever side of the debate you choose to stand on, Ken Ham and the organization Answers in Genesis have put together another book which addresses many questions that people have in connection with science, creation and the Biblical accounts of life and the issues it addresses.
               The book I reviewed is the New Answers Book 4. This is the fourth in a series which contains articles, lectures and messages given in response to common questions that stem from the ongoing dialogue between creationists and evolutionists. Written by a series of authors, with a litany of credentials to support their expertise and experience, the book approaches each issue from the perspective of creation science and provides the reasons, scientifically, why the writers hold their viewpoints.
               The New Answers Book 4 contains 33 chapters. The questions answered include, "Was Charles Darwin A Christian?", "What About Living Fossils?" and "How Big is the Universe?". There are too many others to list, but it is a wide variety of topics within the scientific community that are discussed within it's pages. I am not a very scientifically minded person, so I was lost at several points in what is probably simple language to most people in the field. But, I did find the book a very valuable resource and believe it will help you to understand the perspective of many issues from a creation science viewpoint, even if you do not agree.
              I received this book for free through the Master's Books, a division of New Leaf Press Publishing Group, book review program for bloggers at nlpg.com. The views expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review. You may order the book at http://www.nlpg.com/new-answers-book-4 or preview the contents of The New Answers Book 4 at the link http://www.nlpg.com/downloads/dl/file/id/489/the_new_answers_book_4.pdf. In an age where many believe that creationists have no scientific validity for their convictions, The New Answers Book 4 will offer the reasonable, rational and relatable reasons for a radical faith in the God who created the world.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Innovation's Dirty Little Secret by Larry Osborne

            Let me get straight to the conclusion, lest what I say at first confuse you or lose you. This is a fantastic book that I highly recommend for anyone who is a leader or aspires to be one. Ok, now that I've said those words, allow me to back track a little bit.
             When I first saw the cover and title of Larry Osborne's new book "Innovation's Dirty Little Secret" I wasn't very enthused to read it. But since I have read a previous work by the author, since he does come highly recommended by many prominent leaders and since the book was short, I decided to give it a try. And although I didn't feel engaged in the first chapter or two, the book quickly picked up. I was soon hooked on continuing to read and was impressed by the impact it had on me.
            Dr. Larry Osborne is the Pastor of North Coast Church in San Diego. His premise in the book is that most innovations fail. He then goes on to explore why they succeed or fail, how to think differently and he offers keys to successful innovations. Using both the realms of ministry and business as his platforms, the book is packed with illustrations on each point that really show clear, visual examples of the points he endeavors to drive home.
             I received this book free from the publisher through the http://www.booksneeze.com book review program for bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The views expressed are my own. Even if you don't lead a ministry, business or group, this book will allow you to think much differently. And if you currently lead, or will eventually, this may give you some keys to allowing yourself and others to safely release the ideas inside to make a difference in the lives of those who follow you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Holy Land Key by Ray Bentley

The Holy Land Key - Ray Bentley with Genevieve Gillespie

             Bible prophecy is a fascinating subject that captures the hearts and minds of many Christians and non-Christians alike. An equally captivating subject is the geopolitical events that surround the Middle East. And when the focus is on the nation of Israel, the debate that connects the two subjects can become almost as heated as the daily drama that unfolds in this area, the most volatile region of the world. In Pastor Ray Bentley's new book, The Holy Land Key, he tackles these controversial areas by offering a non-traditional perspective on the subject, by exploring the people who live in the land, both Jewish and Palestinian.
             Pastor Ray Bentley has Pastored Maranatha Chapel in San Diego, part of the Calvary Chapel movement of churches, for decades. He has also spent many years exploring both the land and the people of Israel. Throughout the pages of his book, he offers a unique perspective of the importance of Israel, by painting the portraits of the people who live there and who have developed the land. Many of the stories he tells are of those he has known personally.
            The book is interesting and will challenge your perspectives. If you have a bias for or against any of the ethnic groups found in the land of Israel, you will have a hard time accepting his analysis. If, however, you wish to learn more about what the Bible states about the nation of Israel, how the groups living there interpret these passages in their lives, and how these truths should affect you, then I believe that you will find the chapters to be enlightening.
            I received this book for free through the "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. It was a little bit overwhelming with the information in a couple of areas. But I did enjoy it, recommend it for students of Bible prophecy. I particularly found fascinating the section on the 'Blood Red Moons'. I hope that you will choose to read it and will grow in your knowledge of the scripture and the nation of Israel. You can learn more about the book at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?work=225724

Friday, November 15, 2013

Let Hope In by Pete Wilson

         When trouble or tragedy strikes our life, it can be easy to lose hope. Many people, Christian and non-Christian alike fit that description. And, whether it's because of repeated loss and failure, circumstances that seem overwhelming, or not knowing where to turn for help, it can sometimes feel like hope is gone. Author Pete Wilson knows this, and his book Let Hope In is an encouragement that things can get better, you can have hope again and you can know how loved you are, but you have to make the choice to let hope in.
         Pete Wilson is the founding Pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has served as the Senior Pastor for several years. Using the scripture and stories from his own life and others with whom he has interacted over the years, he shows both how we can feel like hope is gone and hoe we can let it back into our lives again. The four choices that will change your life, from the subtitle, are choosing to transform instead of transfer, choosing to be ok with not being ok, choosing to trust rather than please and choosing to free people rather than hurt them.
         The subject of hope is very important, and one that we all wrestle with at times, even if not chronically. So, I commend the author for addressing an important topic. However, I did not find the book to have engaged me as much as I would have desired. I found it to be strong on illustrations but not as strong on scripture. While stories make the material more personal, it is only God's Word that can offer us true hope. Jesus is our hope. This book does tell us that, but only in ways that are underemphasized to me. Still, it is an important topic and if you need hope, you may find a few keys inside,
         I received this book free from the publisher through the http://www.booksneeze.com book review program for bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The views expressed are my own. You will probably find yourself needing hope sometime in the future. Don't choose to give up. Choose to let hope in and allow Jesus to transform your life. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Call To Resurgence by Mark Driscoll

              There are a lot of people who know how to complain about the church. However, upon closer examination, you will often find that their complaints evolve out of personal offenses or preferences in church styles and methods. Many times, the individuals who complain have done very little in church accomplishments and their credibility is flawed. So it's refreshing when a person comes not to complain but to exhort, not on the basis of personal offense or preference but on the basis of scripture, and not as one has sat on the recliner coaching the quarterback, but as one who has a proven Pastoral track record with many wins under his belt. Mark Driscoll comes as that leader and he raises a passionate cry for the church to be the church in his latest book A Call to Resurgence.
               Pastor Mark Driscoll is the teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, which he founded and has served for close to two decades. He is a best selling author and his latest book follows his typical humorous, Biblical and challenging style. The subtitle of the book, 'Will Christianity have a funeral or a future?', sums up the  direction the book takes in it's contents.
The prospects of a future for the church do not appear positive by cultural indicators, but that is why Pastor Mark exhorts his readers to change things by returning to Biblical truths.
                I honestly wasn't sure what point he was leading up to as I read the first couple of chapters. Focusing on areas such as how we got to the state we're in, how the church is divided into tribes and the importance of the Holy Spirit, although connected, seemed not to make a distinct point at first. However, by the last chapter, discussing Mission: Seven Principles for Resurgence, he ties things together in a clarion call to focus on what is the most important thing, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
               Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book free as a part of their book review program for bloggers. I like everything Mark Driscoll writes so I am a little biased. I do not consider this book as his best work, but it is a worthwhile read and will give you many things to think about as you take up the calling to change the world by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. You can learn more about Pastor Mark, his ministry and A Call to Resurgence by visiting  http://theresurgence.com/.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sun Stand Still Devotinoal by Steven Furtick

Sun Stand Still Devotional - Steven Furtick
             Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina has become very popular in Christian circles in the last few years. But, although he has authored two best-selling books already (Sun Stand Still and Greater), I had not yet read any of his works. His latest book is a devotional, the Sun Stand Still Devotional to be more precise. And, after reading it, I can see why he's a popular speaker and leader. I enjoyed the simplicity but directness of this book.
             Designed to be read in 40 days (I knocked it off in two hours). Each chapter is only three to four pages, with a single verse of scripture, a Bible reading from where the scripture was taken, and the devotional that connects to the main point the author is endeavoring to impress upon his readers. It is very easy to read, very simple to understand but very challenging in the applications he addresses. At the end of each reading is a short suggested prayer that he encourages you to employ.
              Based on the book by the same title, this book is an exhortation to imagine, pray for, believe and then do the impossible in your own life, with the help of God enabling the work to be accomplished. It is not a self-esteem boosting, locker room pep talk devotional. It is instead a call to be who you believe God created you to be, knowing that while only He can enable it to happen, only you can make the choice for yourself that you will be willing and obedient for it to happen through you.
              I received this book for free through the "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. This is not a theology text, it is a devotional, just as the title states. But, I believe if you will not just read it, but accept the challenges of faith the pages unfold, you can become more devoted to God and seeing His will fulfilled in your life.  You can read a free chapter here http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/files/2013/08/SneakPeek_SunStandStillDevo.pdf.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wounded by God's People by Anne Graham Lotz

             Anyone who has spent time in a church setting for very long has probably learned that even among fellow believers, we can be hurt by their words and deeds whether intentionally or unintentionally. But, how we respond to those hurts can oftentimes be in manner that only festers the wounds, but does not provide the healing and reconciliation that is needed in our lives. Anne Graham Lotz writes of this subject in her recent book "Wounded by God's People".
             Anne has preached for decades, written several best selling books and is known as an international conference speaker. But, none of that means she is exempt from the same challenges we all deal with in the area of being wounded by others, and especially by those who profess the name of Jesus as their Lord. Through many trials in the area of being wounded and wounding others, by personal introspection and with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, Anne addresses the problems believers encounter in recovering from being wounded and wounding others.
              Using the Biblical story of Hagar from the book of Genesis, each chapter is woven around a segment of Hagar's life and traumas. The lessons are laced with personal stories of hurt and rejection that the author shares which illustrate the points effectively. The subject is certainly one that most people will most likely deal with at one time or another in their Christian lives. But, rather than just reminding others of how much it hurts, she offers the scriptural solutions to heal and provides the hope needed for many that they can be made whole again.
               I received this book free from the publisher through the http://www.booksneeze.com book review program for bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The views expressed are my own. If you are in need of healing from the wounds of others, or a self professing wounder of others, you may be able to find hope and healing through the truths you apply in the pages of the book. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Reason For My Hope: Salvation by Dr. Billy Graham

            There is undoubtedly one thing that Dr. Billy Graham is known for and that is preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the hope of salvation for all mankind. So, even though he has advanced in years, it is no shock to read through one of his most recent books and find that it centers around the very subject of salvation, and specifically the hope that is found in Jesus Christ.
            While telling the story of why Jesus came, what He did on the cross and how anyone can receive Him as the Savior of their own life, the book addresses issues that are prevalent in the day and age in which we live. From chapters entitled "Sin is in" to "There's no hope of happy hour in hell", Dr. Graham is not afraid to tackle issues that many Christian leaders would rather avoid.
             This book is also filled with many stories and illustrations. At first, I wasn't sure if it was going to contain only stories without scripture, but it quickly fills with the Biblical basis for salvation and what God's word says about hope. Jesus is our hope of salvation. And as he has done faithfully for decades, Dr. Graham explains how Jesus can be your hope too. He is not afraid to use words like sin and hell, as I mentioned earlier. And he's also not afraid to use words like judgment and repent.
             Who should read this book? Anyone who has forgotten quickly what Jesus did for them on the cross. Anyone who has lost hope in a chaotic world. Anyone who is a believer but needs to remember how good God has been to them. And, most of all, anyone who has never entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. I received this book free from the publisher through the http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. And I recommend it to those who fit the categories I have listed.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Godonomics by Chad Hovind

Godonomics by HOVIND, CHAD

               In the current economic and political environment in America today, it could be tempting to assume that there is no other alternative to our situation and that we have to face the inevitable troubles that could result from our excessive debt, taxes and inflation. Others might, on the opposite end, assume that nothing at all is wrong and that the abundance of possessions we are able to accumulate and enjoy are proof that everything is actually ok. However, in Godonomics by Chad Hovind, we can see both by economics and history that there not only is a different way of living, but  the way things are does not always guaranteed that they will stay that way and could be the beginning of much more challenging times ahead of us.
               This book is a good look at money, American history and political thinking. It does not propose supporting any particular political party. But instead, it exhorts the readers to examine the Biblical principles of wealth and poverty to return to the foundations which God said will cause a nation to prosper. It is a look that most people may normally not take at their money and the assumptions we often make on how it is spent.
               Perhaps you have forgotten, or don't remember names is history like John Meynard Keyes, and Adam Smith. Maybe a contemporary name like Allan Greenspan might strike a memory or two. But, the thinking of these and other individuals are challenged in comparison to the Biblical models of financial stewardship and prosperity. This book will challenge you and educate you in many ways.
                I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. You can learn a lot from it though at times you may get a little confused by some of the finance lessons and history you may have missed along the way. If you want a preview, Click here to download chapter one of Godonomics. - See more at: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601424778#sthash.DfqADoem.dpuf.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition by Dave Ramsey

                Dave Ramsey is no stranger to multitudes around the world, and his best selling book  "The Total Money Makeover" is not unknown to the masses who have read it previously. But, just because people talk it doesn't mean anyone listens, or more specifically applies what they hear. So the newest edition of 'The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition" is now available, and even though the book is conveying the same basic truths that were taught in earlier editions, it does include more detail and more testimonies of how life transformation is possible for those who read it.
                Many people talk about principles of getting out of debt and obtaining wealth but don't have either a plan to apply these principles or a plan that has been proven to work. The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition has both of these and includes the stories of many people who have tried the plan and made it work. And for each of the sections of the book with the stories of changed lives attached to them, it is not unlikely to conceive that the author could have included hundreds more of these stories that illustrate and prove that what he is saying works in the real world.
                The book is not a get rich quick scheme or a pay off your debt tomorrow method of financial achievement. But it is layered with time proven principles that will help you achieve financial freedom. If you are expecting a bunch of sermons you won't find them here. Dave is writing to all audiences who read  the book and these principles will work for anyone. To visit a financial planner might cost you a lot of the money that you are trying to protect. But The Total Money Makeover is like having a portable financial planner you can take with you for a fraction of the cost.
                  I received this book free from the publisher through the http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I highly recommend it to anyone who has never had a financial plan, needs help with their current financial situation or simply wants to learn more about how to manage their money. I believe that you'll be glad you read it.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Praying The Attributes Of God by Ann Spangler

           Cover: Praying the Attributes of God

            I had only heard briefly of Ann Spangler, prior to picking up one of her newest books to review, entitled Praying The Attributes of God. I'm not sure what exactly I expected out of the book, but since I feel that the emphasis of scripture is on God, who He is, what He's done for us and how we're to respond to Him, I was intrigued enough by the title and decided to read it through. I was not disappointed with my choice and pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the selection.
            The book is devotional in style, with each section covering one attribute of God, and the five chapters included in each section are divided into a Monday through Friday format, only 3-4 pages apiece, with scripture, small thoughts to pray about and normally an illustration at the end to drive home the point. It is the simplicity of the style with a focus on the scripture that I found to be easy to grasp and meditate upon. It would be a good read for the busy person who still wants to focus on God and to communicate with Him regularly.
             This is not the first of the author's books of this type and I certainly hope it's not her last. The subject of the book was extremely relevant to any believer or unbeliever in God. I did appreciate her use of personal stories and how she tied them into her topics. However, the stories may be the only area that I wasn't quite as gripped as the rest of the book. But, Mrs. Spangler still used them to tie into her main ideas very well.
             I received this book for free as part of the book review program from the Tyndale House publishers blog network. It is a good book, with an important subject., I hope that you read it and find that it helped you to know God more and become more like him.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

God of the Underdogs by Matt Keller

                  In your life, there probably have been moments when you have been up against difficult odds. There have probably been times where you have felt like you were the 'underdog' as you faced your opponent, whether it be a person or a problem. And it's good to know that no matter what challenge may come your way in the future and what opponent you may encounter, the God who created the heaven and the earth is on your side. And that is the subject of Pastor Matt Keller's recent book, God of the Underdogs.
                   Matt Keller is the founder and senior Pastor of Next Level Church, in Ft. Meyers, Florida. God of the Underdogs is his second book and a sizable part of it is laced with stories from his personal experiences in pioneering a church, as well as life lessons he discovered along the way. He is one of the fresh, newer faces of emerging leaders today and has a lot of valuable things to say.
                    The book tells the story of several Bible characters who faced obstacles as the underdog. Each chapter focuses on one person and lists the excuse they could have used, and sometimes actually did, as they faced their own difficult circumstances. From the Apostle Paul, who could have said 'My past is too bad' to Gideon, who might have thought "My resources are too scarce', each person paints the picture of the reasons we often use to excuse our lack of courage to attempt great things for God. And like a leader and a life coach, Pastor Matt inspires all of us to get up, drop the excuses and do something great for God.
                    I would recommend the book to anyone who struggles with thinking they can't be used by God to accomplish great things, or that He is through with them. And, though I sometimes questioned his choice of the excuses connected to some of the characters, since I felt another option might have been more appropriate, we each have probably used some of these excuses as we faced intimidating situations in our lives. This is definitely an applicable book for multitudes of people.
                    I received this book free from the publisher through the http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I think you'll find yourself in the pages of God of the Underdogs, and you may discover that what you thought disqualified you in working for God may be used as a stepping stone to greatness in the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett

                 One of the excuses often heard from people in all walks of life when asked why don't they attempt to do something great is "I don't have enough time", But, in his upcoming book, The Power of a Half Hour', author Tommy Barnett examines the value of what little time we do have available, and how it can be used to do great things for God.
                 Tommy Barnett is very widely known among many Christian circles, and is especially popular for his work as Pastor of Phoenix First Assembly and for pioneering the LA Dream Center. In the book, he shares many stories connected to both churches, as  well as other periods of his life and ministry which illustrate the points of the chapters.
                 This book is thirty chapters, divided into seven sections. The main ideas revolve around using your time to affect your life, path, faith, character, dreams, relationships, and world. And the chapters themselves are very small and easy to read. The book also includes outlines, questions and a study guide at the end.
                 I enjoyed the book and like Pastor Barnett's stories, which he uses frequently throughout the pages. I would recommend it, especially to those who think a little bit of time can't accomplish a lot. Please don't take the half hour concept legalistically, as any amount of time can be utilized for the glory of God if properly handled. But a half hour is a good place to start.
                    I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. Our time is actually the most valuable resource that we have available. Pastor Barnett's book will be available in December 2013, but it might be a great Christmas present for someone who wants to do great things, but is concerned they might not have enough time to do it. You may watch a video about the book at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/blog/2013/04/22/video-power-of-a-half-hour-by-tommy-barnett/

Friday, August 30, 2013

Jesus On Every Page by David Murray

           Much of modern day preaching has downplayed the need for the Old Testament in today's church and Christian life. Focusing on the grace and love of God, the message that is conveyed, whether directly or indirectly, is that the Old Testament was about the law and therefore is not relevant in the age of grace. But, as author David Murray explores in his book Jesus on Every Page, it could be that the Old Testament does not contain a different message or a different Gospel at all. Perhaps it actually conveys the very same message as the New Testament, that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
            David Murray is a professor in Old Testament and Theology, who Pastored in Scotland for 12 years prior to attaining his current position. The journey of understanding the Old Testament and seeing Jesus in the scriptures began many years ago for him, when he was asked to teach on Hebrew and the Old Testament at a newly formed seminary. Not knowing much of the Old Testament himself, he began to study. And the things he found, in his journey that has lasted many years, make up the contents of Jesus on Every Page.  
            Beginning with what the New Testament leaders, including Jesus, had to say about the Old Testament, the author builds a case that not only is the Gospel found in the Old Testament, but the writers of the passages actually knew that they were preaching the Gospel in their works. The second section of the book then proceeds to show in each chapter how Jesus is found throughout the Old Testament, in places like creation, the law, the appearances, the covenants and the prophets.
            I found the book to be well researched and I enjoyed reading it. If you don't care for theology, then you may not find the book to be as interesting to you. The author attempts to avoid the technical aspects of Old Testament theology, and does a good job in making the book simple. But, there are times where you may find yourself having to read a portion over two or three times to understand the scope of the writing.
              I received this book free from the publisher through the http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I do recommend this book to anyone who loves Jesus, loves the Bible and wants to know who the Bible says that Jesus is from cover to cover. Enjoy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Real Win by Colt McCoy and Matt Carter

The Real Win - Colt McCoy and Matt Carter

                 I must confess, I am not a big sports fan. I must also confess, I am not a big fan of men's ministry books. So, my expectations were not extremely high when I chose to read The Real Win, written by an NFL quarterback, Colt McCoy, and the Pastor of Austin Stone Church, Matt Carter. But I was pleasantly surprised and not at all disappointed by what I found in the contents of this great new book. It is a valuable resource for those who want to grow in their relationship with God.
                 One of the reasons I am not a big fan of men's ministry books is that I find they tend to emphasize stereo typical models of macho manhood and leave Biblical principles behind. But, in The Real Win, the authors do quite the opposite, and instead focus on Biblical manhood, what Biblical success is and how to apply this to the practical areas of our lives. And the Biblical definition of true success, as the authors define it, is made up of two primary components: who you trust and who you serve.
                 After defining success from the scriptures in the opening chapters, the book is then divided into four focus areas of winning. They explore winning at home, winning at work, winning in your character and winning over a lifetime. Colt and Matt both relate very personal areas of struggle, the challenges they often face and the Biblical principles to overcome these adversities. And though the book is targeting men, I do believe that women will gain great insights on men, as well as Biblical truths that they can apply to their own lives as well.
                  I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. It even comes including a study guide at the end for small group discussion. If you want a book about macho manhood, this ain't the one. But if you're looking for solid, scriptural truth to help you in the everyday areas of life, you will find many concepts in The Real Win will assist you in living a life of winning over the challenges we all face each day. You may download chapter one of The Real Win at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/files/2013/02/SneakPeek_The-Real-Win.pdf

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Runaway Emotions by Jeff Schreve

                                Emotions are something that all of us have to deal with in life. Whether or not we allow them to control us and rule our lives, or whether we consciously decide to control them, however, is a decision that we must make each day. In the book Runaway Emotions, Pastor and author Jeff Schreve explores the place emotions have in our lives and how we can recognize what God may have intended them to communicate to us when we encounter them, so that we may use them properly to glorify God in our lives and put then in the place He intended, not ruling us but being ruled by us.
                                 Jeff Schreve is the Pastor of First Baptist in Texarkanam Texas. While he was in college, he took a class on emotions one semester that opened his thinking to the role emotions play in our lives. Later, while Pastoring he did a series of sermons on emotions and the content of those sermons became the basis for this book. It is a subject than anyone can relate to, and the illustrations he uses can be readily understood by any reader, since all of us have experienced the same emotions, though under different circumstances.
                                 The book is eight chapters long, each covering a different emotion, ranging from embarrassment to worry to guilt to depression.  The author chose to address many of the most common emotions that we seem to wrestle with as individuals. The message he conveys in each chapter is that the emotion is a warning sign, and he addresses what he believes each emotion is trying to warn us. The cover shows a picture of a smoke alarm, which he actually sounded off in service when the series was first taught. For example, with the emotion of frustration. He states that the emotion is attempting to convey the warning that your God given desire for meaning and purpose is on fire.
                                  I found the book to be practical and applicable, but not as engaging as I would have hoped (perhaps my emotion would be disappointment, but there was no chapter on that one). The material is definitely important, but I am a bit analytical and found myself questioning his conclusions for what each emotion is trying to tell us. He seemed to not have any solid evidence to support the validity of his conclusions, other than his own research that he used to form his  conclusion. That doesn't make the conclusions wrong, just speculative. However, for anyone struggling with their emotional makeup, the book will be a good read.
                                  I received this book free from the publisher through the http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  If you need help with your emotions, this book will be a good place to start. We all struggle with emotions and this book will be a helpful place to gain more understanding of the role of emotions and how to take control of their existence in our lives.

Monday, July 29, 2013

This Beautiful Mess by Pastor RIck McKinley


                     Jesus came to this earth, among other reasons, to reveal to us the kingdom of God. His kingdom functions in this earth, but the way that it operates and the principles and standards it holds are contrary to the way we would normally think. And it is some of these principles and the practical ways we can live them out in our lives that author Rick McKinley chooses to emphasize in his book This Beautiful Mess.
                     Rick McKinley is the Pastor of Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon. His church is a very creative, socially active and outward focused community. It is many of the stories of his members and friends that he shares in the book. And while the principles of kingdom living are very simple and articulated easily, the way that they are lived out in life vary greatly and allow for out of the box thinking in expressing their reality.
                    He discusses the issues of how we do church, our finances, how we share our faith, and living in the tension between the now and not yet. Particularly interesting are the poems and assorted stories found at the end of several chapters. These were written by those he knows and are one way that pastor Rick embraces the kingdom, by allowing others to use their God given skills freely in the context of church and community.
                     For those who are creative, and envision church functioning differently than the traditional norms, this will be an enjoyable read for you. For others, who find Biblical Orthodoxy and it's expression more and more divorced in society from the examples we actually see Jesus display and emphasize, you will may find yourself disagreeing, struggling and analyzing the concepts found in This Beautiful Mess.
                      I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. It will definitely stretch your paradigms of church and kingdom living. You can read a sneak preview of chapter one at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/files/2013/04/SneakPeek_ThisBeautifulMess.pdf

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Billy Graham in Quotes by Franklin Graham

                     When a person has been in ministry for more than 50 years, preached all over the world, written scores of best selling books and led millions of people to faith in Jesus Christ, they might just have a few things to say that are worth remembering. And when that person is the well known Dr. Billy Graham, then he might have a LOT of things to say that are worth remembering, And his son Franklin Graham has contributed to the preservation of our memories of the words of Dr. Billy Graham with his book, "Billy Graham in Quotes".
                     Franklin is the son of Dr. Billy and Ruth Graham, the head of both Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and is an accomplished minister himself. He has taken over 50 years of Dr. Graham's writings and compiled them into a book of memorable quotes. And these are a great source of meditation, inspiration and hope in the world we live in today.
                     The book is divided into topics, with no chapter being very long at all, and most from 3-4 pages. The topics are arranged alphabetically, covering everything from abortion to young people. These are not pithy one liners. But, rather, the wisdom of a father dispensed to the next generation to follow. They are food for thought and may at times challenge your views on subjects that may at times be uncomfortable.
                    I enjoyed reading the quotes. In rating it (and those who read it may well wish to keep in mind) I had to take note that this is not a novel or a book that builds it's story. This is a book of quotes and, as such, it is done very well. It covers a wide variety of topics and gives plenty of material that can be both applied in life and used for topical study on our own. Pastors and teachers in particular may find it helpful for research and sermon preparation.
                       I received this book free from the publisher through the http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I recommend this book to those who love good quotes, and for those who have always wanted to meet Dr. Billy Graham and hear what he had to say. Now is your chance. Thank you Franklin Graham for compiling this treasured work.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fight by Craig Groeschel

                          We have all probably had to fight for someone or something at one time in our life or another, and most people don't enjoy losing. But, sometimes the difference between winning and losing is understanding how to fight and knowing what it is that is worth fighting for in this life. And learning to fight is the subject of the newest book by author Craig Groesschel, titled simply Fight, that is due to be released this October.
                          Craig Groeschel is well known throughout the world as the Pastor of one of the largest churches in the United States, Life Church, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. With a congregation of multiplied thousands, he has had to speak with his share of more than a few people who had some challenging fights, and with others who fight every day to stay spiritually strong in a world of compromise. In the book Fight, he uses the Biblical model of Samson as an example of the wrong way to fight, and draws out many Biblical principles that can easily be applied to our lives.
                         He states very directly that the book is primarily geared toward men but, knowing that women will also read the contents, he encourages every reader to learn how to apply the truths contained in the pages to the areas we all struggle with most. What are some of those areas of struggle? For men in particular, from Samson's life he chooses to focus on lust, entitlement and pride. And later in the book he adds some thoughts about failure and regret that can easily be applied to multitudes of beaten down warriors.
                        I found his stories, particularly those which he tells about himself, to be hilarious and sometimes familiar to anyone who recognizes the challenges all of us face from time to time. The book is very easy to read and the chapters remarkably short, proving that you can say a lot in only a little bit of time. As the subject matter is very important in men's ministry, he covers the issues well and any man should find himself hidden somewhere in between these pages.
                        I received this book free from the publisher through the http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I believe that whether you're a man or a woman that you will gain insights into the world of the way a man thinks and feels. And if you will apply the principals contained in this book, then you too can learn to fight...and to win.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

What Can God Do Through You? Fearless by Eric Blehm

                     Usually when I write reviews, I like to give a little background, perhaps lay out the contents and then share what you can get out of the book. But in the case of Fearless by Eric Blehm, I'm just going to come to the point and tell you to read the book. Eric Blehm has taken the story of Adam Brown, a team member of Navy Seal Team Six, and painted a picture of what God can do through anyone who will be willing to not quit, to submit their life to God and to trust Him even in difficult times. It tells of humility, sacrifice, selflessness, courage, commitment and honor. It was a fantastic book and I recommend it highly. Now, with all that being said, please allow me to share as if I were writing to Kelley Brown, the widow of the great warrior this book presents.
                      Kelley, I'm writing as a blogger who recently read the book Fearless written about your husband Adam's life, and thereby yours and your children's lives also. I wanted to write to you personally and share my thoughts after reading this terrific biography. I would tell you how awesome of a person Adam seemed to be, but you already know that. So, I'd like instead to share from my heart a bit of thanksgiving to you and your family for allowing his story to be told and to explain why I felt this way after reading the book.
                      First, you may still feel grieved and shaken by his death even after coming so far and I pray that the Holy Spirit will be the Comforter that He is to you and your children.. From you seeing Adam through overcoming drug addiction, to standing by him with a blinded eye, nearly severed fingers and other injuries, to watching him love his family and friends and to serve his country and die for that cause, I believe he would say that he wouldn't have made it without you or his other family members being by his side through it all. Thank you for the sacrifices you made to allow Him to fulfill the dreams he had in his heart.
                       Second, the most important lesson I hope that everyone who reads it and who comes in contact with you sees, and one that I'm reminded of every time I hear another person's testimony, is that God can do amazing things through any of us, no matter how far down we've come, or how far up we think we are. I summed up the title of my review as 'What Can God Do Through You' because I believe Adam's life exemplifies that principle.
                       I was also moved by the amount of honor shown to Adam in his life of service, his death, burial, and even afterward. I sobbed my way through probably the last 50 pages of the book, not just because of the sacrifices he made, but because of the humility he showed, the honor he was given and the legacy he has left not just for his family, but now for multiplied thousands of people who will hear and learn from his example.
                        I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. I was not expecting what I got out of it. I look forward to meeting Adam in eternity some day. I am also thankful to Eric for taking on this project and believe he did a great job telling the story. Anyone else reading this review may read a sneak peak of chapter one at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/pdf/SneakPeek_Fearless.pdf.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Jesus, My Father, The CIA And Me by Ian Cron

                    Imagine waking up as a teenager one day to discover that your alcoholic, stock broker father actually worked for the CIA. That is the description of what happened to author Ian Cron in his teenage years. And it was then that he discovered the beginning of the truth about his father's life, truth which had affected him dramatically while growing up in a world of instability and would continue to shape the years of his life, even decades later.
                    Ian Cron is an Episcopal priest and writer, whose latest book "Jesus, My Father, The CIA And Me" is a memoir of his life experiences which led him through bouts of depression, alcoholism, fear and, finally, resolution with the pages of his own story as it evolved. The book does not attempt to fill in every detail, as even the author notes quite early that we don't always remember things as the way that they were. He instead pieces together tales in his life drama that take the reader on a journey with him through the heartache, frustration and disappointment that he had to overcome in growing up to be who he is today.
                    For anyone who grew up with an alcoholic father, the book may be a little unpleasant, perhaps jarring memories of your own childhood and struggles that you faced. For anyone whose alcoholic father worked for the CIA (not sure how many of those would fit the category), it may be a bit of a medicinal healing balm to help you make sense of the chaos you may have encountered along the way. For others who do not fit those two categories, you will find a peek into the life of a young man who desperately wanted a relationship with his father and how he made peace inside himself when that relationship was not found in his own life.
                    If I had known a little about Ian Cron prior to reading the book, it would have probably helped me to understand the direction the book was heading. I found myself unsure as to whether the piece would have a 'happy ending' and it took some adjustment to flow freely with it. It is, however, laced with good natured humor throughout the contents and each story tells not just a part of the author's experiences, but also the lessons he learned while taking the course called life.
                   This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com.  I learned a lot about Ian Cron, his family, life with a troubled father who worked for the CIA, and what it is like to struggle with the longing for the family relationship you always wanted but never experienced. I trust that as you read it, whatever you have struggled with in life, it will help you to close the pages on your past and start a new chapter with a fresh perspective on living.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Undaunted by Christine Caine


                      Human sex trafficking is a hot topic in some segments of the media in our day and age. But, while many discuss this epidemic problem and how it devalues life and enslaves multitudes who are trapped in it's snare, very few are willing, unafraid and determined to do something about it. Enter Christine Caine. And, while her new book Undaunted, is not exclusively about the sex trafficking industry, it does explore what it means to obey God in the face of fear, uncertainty and giants that stand in our way from the vision He has given us to fulfill. Part of her vision is the founding of A21, an organization dedicated to rescue those who are bound in the nightmare of sex trafficking. The book tells the story of how A21 began, as well as many other of Christine's life changing encounters with the God who inspired her to live undaunted in life.
                       Before I give any detail about the book itself, let me begin by saying that it was a fantastic book to read, and if I had only been able to keep my eyes open (alas, I was not able), I would have probably finished it in one sitting. Christine Caine is widely sought after conference speaker who has a tremendous ability to communicate simple truths in profound ways and with memorable illustrations. This book is no exception and is filled with her own personal pains and joys, which weave a picture of the hand of God at work in the lives of those who willingly submit themselves to be touched by his hand.
                       The book is not a theology text, if that's what's you were expecting. nor would I necessarily classify it as a biography, though many life stories line the pages. It is more of a documentary with Biblical principles that uphold the stories Christine shares in this book. It is very easy to read and at times humorous as she openly shares her own struggles, which many of us may find all too familiar as we examine our own life experiences.
                        This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com. What can you gain from Undaunted? You can gain the encouragement to know that no matter who you are, what you've been through or what obstacles you face, God can help you to overcome anything. You can gain a perspective that nothing is impossible with God. And you can learn to follow the dream and vision God has birthed in your heart, knowing that He will do things supernaturally that only he can do when you obey Him. But, you will only gain these things if you too choose to live an undaunted life for Jesus

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Nearing Home by Billy Graham

                      Billy Graham is probably the best known evangelist in American history. He has reportedly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to more humans than anyone in history and has spoken in 185 nations of the world. It is also no secret that Dr. Graham has gotten older, has suffered from numerous physical challenges and, like all of us, is coming closer each day to his final day of rest. So, as he nears the end of his life, we find a book release from him that discusses not just what lies ahead of him in eternity, but the new challenges he has faced in the journey toward that goal. His book, Nearing Home, is a practical book that discusses life, growing older and the after life, and is a must read for all of us.
                     Most people do not particularly like to think much about their own death. For those who do so, we may often believe that they are unusual and perhaps even morbidly preoccupied with a subject that few people desire to address. But, in this book, Dr. Graham does not shy away from the subject and chooses to tackle the issues head on that most individuals might not want to discuss openly. Some of the chapter titles include "Consider the Golden Years" and "Death's Destination". But, each one of them has relevance for each of us, because each of us do grow older, will most likely witness the death of someone we love and will have to deal with the effects of age in this life. Most importantly, as the title implies, this earth is not our home and each day we draw closer to our home in heaven. Are we prepared for that moment when we arrive 'home'? Are we prepared for all our journey entails before we arrive? These are topics that are covered in the pages of the book.
                     I was somewhat hesitant to read the book Nearing Home, as I found the subject uncomfortable. And, while I do not promise that reading this selection will give you warm feelings of joy, I do recommend that everyone read it. It will be food for thought, will spur you on to prepare for the future and will make you think more about eternity than you may have done in quite some time.
                    This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com. Though you may find the topic unpleasant to think about , it is a needed read for all of us and will help you look closer to heaven as you begin your journey of "Nearing Home".

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sent by Hilary Alan

Sent - Hilary Alan

               We've all probably heard the stories of missionaries who abandoned everything to follow Christ in a foreign land, of those who were willing to give up the comforts of convenience for the sake of proclaiming Christ in unknown communities. Hilary Alan's story, told in her recent book titled Sent, is very similar, but with a more modern and in-depth look not just at the journey she took to serve overseas in Southeast Asia, but at the process involved in embarking upon such a task. And in telling her story, she reveals many issues that may confront all of us as we attempt to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, wherever he may send us.
                The Alan family (Hilary, her husband Curt and their two children) were living a successful, upper middle class, suburban life in North Carolina when God began to stir their hearts for something more than what they were experiencing. Through a series of events that occurred in conjunction with the most devastating tsunami in history in Southeast Asia, the family believed that God was sending them to an unknown land in that region of the world to assist with rebuilding the community and to reach out to those who were not familiar with the good news of Jesus Christ.
                Throughout the book, the author effectively conveys the emotional, physical, and spiritual challenges that faced their family in obeying God to leave their home, jobs, family and friends to go to a place that was a Muslim region, governed by Sharia law, where white westerners, particularly women were not looked upon favorably. She includes the stories of selling everything, of the reactions of their friends and family and the struggles of living without modern conveniences like washers, dryers and other items that we might take for granted that we own. From daily sweeping her dirt floors, to wearing head coverings when entering public places, there is a variety of subjects addressed in Sent.
                 Particularly interesting were the accounts of their son and daughter, both of whom were school age when their family decided to move. The pressures the children faced were strong, but she paints a beautiful picture of the grace of God that helped them in the transition also. She also shares stories of some of the people she became close to and the frustrations of living in a culture that doesn't always do things the way we might think they should, sometimes with devastating consequences for those involved. She ends the book by showing how they journeyed back to the United States, but returned much different than when they originally left.
                 I  received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review.  I found the  book to be a little long, but some of you may find all of the detail to be quite revealing as you delve into the story. You may read an excerpt at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/pdf/SneakPeek_Sent.pdf

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Seven Men by Eric Metaxas

                I like biographies, particularly those about people whom I know from their achievements. But, like many, my time does not always permit me the freedom to read every biography. So when I encountered the book "Seven Men:And the Secret of Their Greatness" by author Eric Metaxas, I was very glad to learn the contents of the pages, and was even more glad after I finished reading it. The author has done a spectacular job of writing the shortened biographies of seven great men in history, and what made them worthy of remembering to all of us.
                Eric Metaxas is a writer who used to work under Charles Colson at Prison Fellowship ministries and who currently still works with the "Breakpoint" radio program that Colson led for years. So, it was no surprise to find Charles Colson on the list of the seven great men whose lives the author chose to review. He has authored two previous full length biographies, one about William Wilberforce and the other about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, both whose capsulized stories are included in his newest contribution. But, those that I have described already are just three of the figures you'll be happy to read about in this fascinating book. The other heroes he mentions are equally worth paying attention to as you study.
                Whether it is heart breaking abuse Jackie Robinson endured as the first African American baseball player, or the courage of William Wilberforce to abolish slavery from his own country, the stories will lead on a journey through the lives of those whose influence can be felt still, even many years after their death. I was particularly moved to tears when I read the story of Eric Liddell, who is best known for his Olympic feats and for his resistance to run on a Sunday (featured in the film 'Chariots of Fire'). But, the story of the rest of his life after the Olympics, including the sacrifices he made as a Christian missionary to China, is what sets him apart form others in history. I found his example truly Christ-like and an inspiration to us all.
                 You may not agree with all of those whom the author has chosen to write about in this book. But, I do believe you'll have to agree after reading it that all of them achieved great things, often against terrible odds and opposition. They are all worthy of our respect and we can learn much from the legacy that they leave behind for all of us to follow. This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com. I think you will agree after reviewing it that it was both an educational and inspiring book. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris

Humble Orthodoxy

                  Perhaps you, like many others, have met your fair share of Christians who are incredibly educated when it comes to the truth of the scriptures, but can be rather irritating in how they present that knowledge to others. But, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you may also have encountered those who are kind and gentle believers, but who have the most non-traditional, not to mention non-scriptural, viewpoints about God and the Bible as a person could ever imagine existing. And, thus, we discover that we are not alone in recognizing these contradictions, when we delve into the contents of author Joshua Harris' book Humble Orthodoxy.
                   Joshua Harris is the Pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He is a seasoned speaker, author and church leader. But, in serving God for many years, he has noticed the same behavior patterns in believers that I pointed out in the opening paragraph. And his attention to this dilemma and the encouragement of other Godly leaders led him to the development of the book, Humble Orthodoxy, which addresses both humility and orthodoxy in belief.
                   The book is relatively small and simple to read. Someone could easily finish it in a little over an hour. The author stresses throughout the work that there is a need not just for one or the other of the choice between humility and orthodoxy, but that it is possible to exhibit both traits as Christians, and that it is actually the desire of the Lord that we would have both operating consistently in our lives. He goes on to address how we can and should cultivate both aspects of living and even gives examples of those he has observed who have been good and bad examples in each area.
                   Undoubtedly, the subject matter in this work is needed for all believers. However, I did find the book to be a little bit repetitious in it's emphasis, even for it's short length. Each of the two topics could easily have been a book of their own. Yet, when combined together, it appeared to this reader that the point of the book was driven home early in the work, and the remainder of the book continued to pound the same nail that was solidly fastened in place already. But, that may also have been very intentional, to reinforce the concepts already presented so that the subject could be fully understood.
                   Is the material in the book needed? Absolutely. Should you read it? Certainly. I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review.  You may read an excerpt at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/blog/2013/01/08/sneak-peek-humble-orthodoxy-by-joshua-harris/.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

           For those who have been believers in Jesus Christ and have been a part of a structured church for any length of time, it can be very easy to quickly assess how spirituality is measured and who's at the top of the 'pecking order', whether written rules for the system exist or even if they don't. One of the dangers in entering any such church system is that we can accidentally impose our definition of what it means to be 'spirtual' on everyone else around us, and thereby become a modern day Pharisee. And this is only a small part of what author Larry Osborne addresses in his book, Accidental Pharisees.
           Larry Osborne is the Pastor of North Coast Church in San Diego, California. He is a seasoned Pastor, author and church leader. And, as he openly confesses throughout the book, he has been guilty at times of being an accidental Pharisee. However, the book offers hope for those who are caught in the same traps he experienced, and it gives vital illustrations of the behavior so prevalent in many Christians that lend to fostering this faith debilitating condition.
           When you first hear the title and recognize the subject matter, you might be tempted to think "good, a lot of people need to hear this". However, after reading through only a few pages, you will be more inclined to muse "wow, I really need to hear this". Because,  the author goes beyond the mere modern conceptions of a Pharisee's behavior and examines the attitudes so prevalent in all of us that can threaten our relationship with God and others when not properly kept in check.
           The book has 7 different sections, each addressing one of the areas where we can unintentionally move toward Pharisee like behavior. Addressing issues such as pride, exclusivity, legalism and idolizing the past, Pastor Larry works at exploring not only the ways can exhibit these tendencies, but also the scriptural proof texts used to support them, in addition to the verses typically avoided by those who practice these positions.
           I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Joseph of Arimathea, the disciple nobody wants to be. It explores our definitions of what we think is acceptable, verses what God thinks is acceptable. And I have to admit that although I was looking forward to reading this book, I had to go 'ouch' at several parts of it...which can making reading somewhat uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I was able to finish the book rather quickly and I found it to be an important addition to my 'glad I read that' list.
              This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com . I debated whether or not to give it 5 stars or just 4. I mean, after all, I was convicted at times and I thought books were supposed to be just for pleasure, not for study, personal application (did I mention the discussion questions at the end of each chapter?) and growth. Isn't that just for everybody else? No, I decided to give the book a 5 star rating, because if you're anything ike the rest of us, you may discover by reading it that there are areas you too can adjust to become more like Jesus and less like an accidental Pharisee.

Monday, March 18, 2013

God's Not Dead


                  Rice Broocks is no stranger to the controversial questions that arise from skeptics when the Christian faith is discussed in the various parts of the globe where he has ministered. As a seasoned Pastor, church planter, author and leader, he has been challenged to address a variety of "hot button topics" which continually arise from those who have unanswered inquiries about God, creation, faith and the proof surrounding these bedrocks of Christian doctrine. And, one of the ways he has developed that directly confronts these issues for those who are curious is his newest book, entitled "God's Not Dead - Evidence For God In An Age Of Uncertainty".
                  While the book can be considered primarily a tool to answer the questions of atheists, agnostics and skeptics, it is also designed in a way that can equip the saints to do the works of the ministry. One of those works can surely be considered going into all the world and preaching the Gospel to every creature. Undoubtedly, many of the topics he discusses in this manual will be those that believers everyewhere will confront when attempting to share a Christ-centered faith with those who believe otherwise.
                  The book is divided into ten chapters, each somewhat building upon the topic previously discussed in the prior chapter. Ranging from subjects such as "Good and Evil are no Illusions" to "Lie has Meaning and Purpose", there is a wide array of topics that are covered, which leads to a fuller understanding of the foundational beliefs of Christian faith. He attempts to address the most commonly heard issues of opposition and succeeds in his task.
                  The book and the topics discussed are vital to equip any believer to share their faith and to challenge non-Christians to examine more carefully the answers they assume they will receive when asking questions that are designed to thwart the faith of some. However, this book may not be easy for everyone to read. I, for one, am not very scientific in my natural inclination or understanding, so I found the chapters which addressed evolution based arguments and scientific discoveries to be less easy to finish. Yet, I am more familiar and comfortable with the truths surrounding the scriptures themselves, along with Jesus death, burial and resurrection, and this made those chapters simpler to digest and to grow from their material.
                 This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com . If you are one who likes to study the subject known as 'apologetics' or if you are one who feels as though you have no answers when you find yourself in dialogue with an atheist or agnostic, than this may be a good choice for you to read. But, even if you don't fall into those categories, any believer can learn, grow more and strengthen their faith by reading this book, to face the onslaught of attacks that often confront Christians who endeavor to fulfill the great commission and to make disciples of all nations.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Heaven's Lessons by Steve Sjogren


         There are quite a few stories that you will often hear about those who had died and came back again. But, often the focus of the story is what the person saw, heard and experienced during their time out of their body. Enter Steve Sjogren. Steve has been a Pastor, author and community leader for decades. Several years ago, Steve died on an operating table and came back again. And in his book, Heaven's Lessons, the emphasis is not as much on the experience he had, but on the lessons he learned from his encounter with death, eternity and who is on the other side.
         Heaven's Lessons tells the story of ten lessons that Steve learned after having his encounter with death. Ranging from God is big, to face your fear, each one emphasizes important truths that we may have been taught, but can become different in the light of eternity. They each give  us a fresh new look at principles that are important but often are neglected or not emphasized in our culture. But, the author also weaves bits and pieces of his own personal experience, both before and after his brush with death, into the pages of each chapter.
         The most particularly fascinating chapter to me was chapter eight, entitled. Get Over It. One of the things Steve Sjogren learned came after a visit to a therapist who helped him sort through the emotional issues he was encountering. He had a bad break with the church he had Pastored and had to resign later after he had already been through a great amount of trauma. But then his psychologist told him "Even though you had absolutely nothing to do with the accident...practically everyone in your organization is very angry with you because you have up-ended their lives." (page 104). This was something he had never considered and it helped him in the process of overcoming all that he had been through up until that point.
         While I expected to hear a little more about his after death experience based on the title of the book, I was nevertheless pleased at the contents of this fine work. This book was given to me complimentary as a part of the book review program for bloggers at www.booksneeze.com . I am glad that I read it. And I hope that you and I can learn from the lessons contained in it's pages that the spiritual world is more real than the natural world and we should live each day in the light of that reality, knowing that one day all of us will face the other side of the grave to behold our creator, in all of His glory.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley

Next Generation Leader - Andy Stanley
                 There was a period of time 10-15 years ago, when the 'leadership' movement was dominating the Christian world. Books, CDs and seminars abounded in teaching leadership principles to individuals in every area possible. Sometimes, the things that were lacking amidst all of the hype were proven leaders who had lived some of the principles they were espousing, and not merely parroting others who had gone before them. But, then, we  come to one of Andy Stanley's latest books, Next Generation Leader.
                 Andy Stanley, himself, is a proven leader. The Pastor of Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia not only leads thousands of people weekly, but through his ministry other churches are springing up all over the country and multitudes of Pastors across the United States look to him as a teacher, mentor and spiritual father. The book, Next Gneration Leader, declares the truths that have helped him to lead and that he believes will help both those who are leading now and those who will be the leaders of the future.
                The book is divided into five sections, each beginning with the letter "C", standing for Competenece, Courage, Clarity, Coaching, and Character. The chapters then develop each of those topics and expand the ideas presented for the subject being exmined. No chapter is so lengthy that you couldn't read it in just a few minutes time. But, each chapter is packed with "food for thought" that will keep you chewing on the rich truths presented.
                 One of the things I appreciated most about the book was the personal illustrations the author uses to drive home his points. Rather than the stories coming off as the boastings of a
"leadership guru" declaring how to be perfect, Andy Stanley is very transparent and vulnerable as he relates not the only the times when he knew what to do, but the times when he had to learn by not knowing what to do and having to rely on others on his team, who were talented and gifted leaders also. I particularly found the story of the developement of their "syamese sanctuaries" a fascinating lessson in courage, because leadership requires the courage to take risks and do things that can potentially fail. In that case, he took a risk that proved to be a great decision. But you'll have to read that section to find out more about it.
                 It was great to read a book on leadership that wasn't full of the lists of all of the things you feel like you'll never be able to accomplish, nor the motivational speeches of an athletic instructor who doesn't know if you have what it takes to stay in the game. Next Generation Leader was inspiring, encouraging and educational.  I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" for this review. I am very glad that I had the privilege of reading it. You may read an excerpt at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/pdf/SneakPeekNextGenerationLeader.pdf