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

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 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 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

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  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.