Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible by Various

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Reformation Trust.

Scripture alone. What does this mean? Are there varying views on it?

Several authors came together in this book to answer those questions. Taking the protestant approach to the Bible, they broke this discussion into seven sections. Each section dealing with understanding Sola Scripture, how the Roman Catholic position views this teaching and how the Protestants view this teaching.

What I found most helpful was the development of this book. It starts by answering the question: what do we mean by Sola Scriptura? From there it goes into the history of the Scripture, how it was view in early Christendom and the to the formation of the Scriptural Cannon.

The discussion then enters into the authority of Scripture, how to understand its authority in the lives of men and from whence came this authority. Do not skim this section as it has depth and potency that would do well to all that read it.

One section that I enjoyed was section six: Scripture and Tradition. In it Sinclair B. Ferguson discusses the difference between Roman Catholic tradition on Scripture and Scripture itself. What has happened is interpretation based on traditional teaching rather than what Scripture clearly states. This causes a heretical view of Scripture and thus the attempt, in some manner, to disregard Scripture as the sole authority for salvation.

All in all, a great book to read to strengthen the power of Scripture and destroy the traditions that are of men.

Life Promises for Success by Jim Tressel

This little book has scripture and quotes from successful people is a resource to encourage those who are having troubles in life. Whether is it adversity, decision making, integrity, and more, this book is a nice go to for a bit of a pick-me-up when life is weighing heavy.

I received this little book from TyndaleRewards.com. You should check out the website and earn yourself a book or two.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Finishing Well, Finishing Strong by Jim Grassi

*I received this complimentary copy from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

I am an advocate for mentoring, particularly older men mentoring younger men (think men in their 50's mentoring men in their 30's). So much has been lost with the idea that a man needs to stand alone.

Enter several guides by Jim Grassi of which this title is one. In Finishing Well, Finishing Strong, Grassi challenges the mentor and mentee to live their lives with the endgame in mind.

Using Biblical and non-Biblical examples, Grassi shows how men living wisely and living with God's principles in mind, finish well and strong.

This guide starts with an example, presents a summary, and then has an action item at the end of each section that a mentor and mentee should go through together.

I would suggest that those who use this book also consider other guides by Jim Grassi for further growth.

The Uncommon Marriage Adventure by Tony & Lauren Dungy

*I received this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.

This is another title in the "Uncommon" series by Tony Dungy. However, this is different in that it is more a devotional book. Instead of chapters there are days and weeks (example day 1: week two).

The intent is that couples read each day and then apply what they learn. In this sense it is as if the Dungys are mentoring a couple.

This is done by personal life stories, anecdotes, and challenges. I really found the personal element very effective. No marriage is perfect and to hear of those who stayed dedicated during the imperfect times is a great encouragement.

Thus, another great book by the Dungys and one that inspires couples that a great marriage can be obtained.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Longing for More by Timothy Willard

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. 

This devotional was a different read than I was expecting. This was due in part to its layout. Some days were thoughts, some days were prayers, and some days were a combination. 

Yet through it all the book remained true to its intent: finding God. Life has a way of interfering in our relationship with God. Busyness, stuggles, hardships, and more seek to draw our attention away from God. 

What Timothy Willard has done is take those interfering situations and present them in such a way to draw the reader to find God in them. Sometimes this is done with a simple questions. Other times by a prayer or thought. The method isn't important; finding God is. And that is where this devotional succeeds.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are We Together by Dr. R. C. Sproul

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reformation Trust in exchange for my honest review.

When I was told that I would be allowed to review this book I was delighted. I have always wondered the differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics.

I could make out some differences just by watching a mass or two on TV. I also read a little on the subject but struggled with how much different the two beliefs were.

Are We Together? goes to the very heart of what Protestants and Roman Catholics believe. By giving both sides of doctrinal issues Dr. Sproul proves that the two systems are not the same.

This was best shown in the chapter regarding sole fide: justification by faith alone.

The differences in the teaching of sole fide is perhaps the greatest cause that puts Roman Catholicism and Protestants against each other in their beliefs. Dr. Sproul does a masterful work in showing just how different, and the ramifications of this difference, each side is from the other.

Not only that, Dr. Sproul then shows how this theological understanding weaves itself into other teaching of Roman Catholicism and Protestants. Items such as beliefs on Mary, the Church, the Pope, and even how interpretation of Scripture comes into play.

With all this foundation laid Dr. Sproul proves that we are NOT together in our beliefs and that Catholicism places undue powers on places that should be only reserved for Christ, and Christ alone.

That said, this book is a great resources for those that struggle with the differences between the two beliefs and those that are wanting to reach their Roman Catholics friends with the Gospel.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Uncommon Manhood by Tony Dungy

This little book is filled with some great wisdom and advice from Tony Dungy to men. It highlights matters such as: character, courage, how to treat women, faith, money, career, and more.

Each section is not long but packed with insight and a mentor-like feel that makes this book an easy read but dynamite impression.

Don't wait until Father's Day to get this book. Get it now and give it to the men in your life. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for my honest review.

Most devotionals that I have come across could be called Spirit-Lifters. They are designed to encourage, strengthen, challenge, and remind the reader of this amazing life God has given us and to enjoy it, good or bad.

Not so this devotional.

This devotional causes the reader to realize the immensity of what God has done for him/her because of his/her sin. Each day is focused on making sure that we forget not God and what He has done for us.

It also places the blame on where it should be: our sin. Our sin is what divides our relationship with God. Yet God renews His mercy each morning so that we are not consumed.  This devotional drives home this truth.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

John by Dr. R.C. Sproul

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reformation Trust in exchange for my honest review.

“The Word became flesh—and then through theologians it became words again.” ~Karl Barth

This quote sums up what many feel when they hear the word theologian. They have this idea that it is about men debating, arguing, dare I say fighting, over various doctrinal beliefs. Through it all one thing seems to emerge: Christianity is about being the right theological camp.

Get in the right camp and you are all set.

Commentaries, studies, lectures, and sermons all drive home this idea that the right camp is what is needed to be a good Christian. I agree that there needs to be some foundational understanding of Scripture, but sometimes the doctrinal issues take control over what really is the heart of Christianity: Christ.

Dr. Sproul in his commentary on John has reversed what Karl Barth said. This commentary is revealing who Jesus Christ is. It is not trying to prove a theological bent, though the reformed view is emphasized. Rather it seeks to show Christ for who He is: God incarnate.

Dr. Sproul does a masterful job of taking the book of John, showing who Christ is (John’s intent in his Gospel), and then bring the reader to a point of decision: who is Christ to me?

Over and over the commentary reveals various aspects of Christ’s ministry and then presents the reader with a thought.

For example, near the end of the commentary, Dr. Sproul focuses on John 21:15-25. In verse 25 Peter asks about John. Paraphrasing Jesus tells Peter that it is not Peter’s concern what happens to John; just follow Me (Christ). Sproul then writes
The Lord has jobs for each of us to do, and what others do is ultimately
none of our business. Each of us must do what God has given him or her to
do, and fulfill the mandate of Christ. (pg 408)

What a great challenge! I am not responsible for others; I am responsible to God. That is what is so great about this commentary. It is a commentary with a devotional mindset. For that reason, it is a commentary worth having.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Be the Message by Kerry & Chris Shook

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

"You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?" is something that I heard a lot of growing up. It is so easy to say the right words at the right time. However, that is all that it is: words.

In Be the Message, the Shooks challenged the reader to go beyond words, beyond thoughts, beyond comfort zones to a life of action.

No longer should a Christian be satisfied with a life of pew-warming. No longer should a Christian be content with lip service. No longer should a Christian be okay with being okay.

Instead the life of Christianity is in the Message: Jesus Christ. It is the message of His life what we are to proclaim and that comes by doing what He did.

Jesus did not talk to people and then let them be. No, He took action. He healed, He fed; He loved. That is what it means to Be the Message. That is what this book drives home so very well. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Heidelberg Catechism

*I received a review copy of this book from Banner of Truth in exchange for my review.

When I received the opportunity to review this book I was elated. As someone who really wants to catechize my children I found this to be a great option. I've already started though my wife informs me that I should wait until my seven-month old son is a bit older. :)

The book itself is small which makes teaching from easy. The print is great making for an easy-on-the-eyes read. Also, the pages are designed to be used often; thick and well-weighted.

The leather-softcover has a great feel and induces a thought of what those in the 1500's may have felt holding their copy of this catechism.

I highly recommend this little book for those wanting a long-lasting copy for both study and teaching The Heidelberg Catechism.

The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible (NKJV); Phil & Al Robertson Executive Editors

*I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Inspired by the show Duck Dynasty, Phil and Al Robertson have placed some of the life lessons they have learned in this Bible.

Inserted at key points are comments titled Set Your Sights. Each one of these comments focuses on one of the following areas: faith, family, fellowship, forgiveness, and freedom.

For example, between the books of Jonah and Micah is one on family titled Anger. In this section Phil Robertson gives testimony of how anger controlled his actions.

However, he learned that being angry and be controlled by anger are two different things.

God is angry with evil yet does not sin. Thus, there is a way to be angry and not sin. As the reader continues in the comment it is revealed that love is the key to overcoming improper anger. This is just one example of the lessons that are taught in this Bible.

Overall the Bible is decent with the comments mentioned above. It is not a study Bible, has no columnar references, and has no concordance. The typeface is good for reading, the weight is not too heavy, and the Set Your Sights comments are not distracting. A good resources for teaching and perhaps a devotional or two, but those wanted a good study Bible should seek elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Romantic Rationalist

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for my honest review.

I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan. I first read his books as a teenager and loved his profound, but simple approach to understanding some very difficult Christian teachings.

The Romantic Rationalist is a series of, what I will call essays, on beliefs held by C. S. Lewis on a few Biblical matters. These essays aim to give the reader a glimpse into what Lewis believed, how he thought, and how to gain from Lewis' approach to Scripture.

For example, Lewis liked to read Scripture as a literary work and less as theology. While he understood it as a work of theology he saw the literary masterpiece that it is. Couple this with his hesitation to enter the realm of the theologian. He was, after all, a literature professor and a fine one at that.

I also appreciate where the essayist makes note(s) of where he/she differs in beliefs from Lewis. This gives credence to the understanding that Lewis viewed himself as a storyteller and imagination builder. Lewis was not out to debate theological differences so much as he wanted the common man to understand the wonders that are God. As such his theology was not completely worked out in some areas; something he admitted.

Yet, this does not mean that we cannot learn from his viewpoints; the goal of this book. As each section unfolds, the reader sees more and more just how rational, but idealist, Lewis was. In this respect the book is marvelous and is a great resource for those who a deeper appreciation for Lewis' views on God, the Bible, and how things ought to be.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary; General Editor: Ronald F. Youngblood

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Having used an older edition of Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary (NIBD) I was curious to see how the updated edition fared.

The first thing I noticed was the wonderful photos and maps that were used. They are great quality and color which makes certain Bible scenes come alive.

The second thing was the detailed work of the definition. Each definition was given some weight based on its importance.

For example, the information on a manager is two paragraphs long. The explanation for the Gospel of Mark is just over two pages long. I like this as it allows for a greater understanding of what really needs to be understood.

The third thing is the weight of the book itself. It is quite heavy but when you see the nature of the work therein it is easy to see why. While not something that ideal for devotional time it is excellent for deep Bible study.

The fourth thing is that it has been cross-referenced to major translations. Thus it is not a KJV only or NIV only dictionary. It does really well to note subtle changes in wording throughout various Bible translations.

Overall this update is very nice improvement over its former edition and well worth consideration for those looking for a nice Bible dictionary.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Christian Lover by Michael A.G. Haykin with Victoria J. Haykin

*I received this book from Reformation Trust in exchange for my honest review.

This book is a collection of letters written by various Christians starting with Martin Luther and ending in the mid 1940's. It is an open look into how marriage influence some great couples and how they viewed their marriage from God.

Each letter, with its unique style, causes an appreciation of marriage that has a lasting impact. Reading Martin Luther, for example, shows how much the reformer valued and loved his wife...as a man. He was a great giant of the faith, yet was humbled by the love of his wife.

This is but a small taste of the letters contained in this book. Others were written in such beautiful language that the poetic genius is to be well appreciated.

I recommend that this book be read by couples to encourage, strengthen, and impassion their marriage. It will challenge men to be better husbands and women to be better wives.

For the men, I found myself thinking, "do I love my wife in this way?". To see great men of the past love their wives so deeply and intimately stirred within me the desire to have the same relationship with my wife. I want to be able to write such words that come from a life of love. Words that have backing; words that have guts.

For the women, it was a challenge to live so that letters could be written to them because their husbands appreciate and love them dearly. A man should not have a hard time expressing himself to his wife when he loves her with all his being. A wife that loves her husband in the same way will allow him to be open and draw forth the expression.

Once again, I recommend this book to all married couples. It will be worth your while to read together and then make your own letters of love.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The NKJV Study Bible

*I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

When I saw that I had the opportunity to review this Bible I jumped at the chance. I owned the previous edition of this Bible and wanted to see the updates that were made. There are some great changes and positives about this Bible.

First, the colors are magnificent. They are vibrant, detailed, and not grainy at all. I found myself starring at them a lot. However, they were not so distracting that I lost my place while reading.

Another positive is the location of the notes. They are at the bottom which allows the text to flow with minimal interruption. The same goes for the word study notes which are mostly at the bottom as well. Both the text and study notes were in a great font type. This allowed for reading without straining.

What did surprise me as another positive was the introduction to each book. I chose Romans and really benefited from the introduction and book outline. It setup for a great read of Romans.

The only drawback that I can see is the weight. Coming it at just over four pounds makes this a heavy study Bible. This should not pose a problem for study on a table or a desk. It will probably pose a problem for handheld reading.

Thus, I give this Bible a 4.5 star rating and suggest that if you are looking for a new study Bible and favor the New King James Version consider this Bible as a great option.

365 Pocket Prayer for Mothers

*I received this complimentary copy from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.

Before I get too far I must first say that I am not a mother; I am a father. However, I was really curious about this little book. As someone who enjoys prayer books (Book of Common Prayer, Celtic Prayers, etc) I really wanted to see what this book had to offer.

The first thing I noticed was the heart of prayers. They were deep, emotional, honest, but potent. I was greatly surprised by some of things that were written. I would not have thought to pray like that.

For example, one prayer was how the child challenged the mother to be more joyful. This was inspired by giggles. Giggles! Who would have thought that giggles would cause a longing to be joyful?

Another example was the mother recalling her child walking very wobbly and how she longed to be "caught" by God when she struggled to walk in her life.Those are just two examples of some very powerful prayers that were inspired from ordinary childhood events.

I would highly recommend that mothers get this little book to read when they have the chance. It should encourage you as a mother, challenge you to enjoy those "moments", and to thank God that you are a mom.

P.S. I was saddened that there is not a 365 Prayers for Fathers...yet. If it is anything like this book it will be a great book for any father.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Maxwell Leadership Bible (NIV)

*I received this complimentary copy from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this honest review.

Let me begin by stating that I am a John Maxwell supporter. I thoroughly his books and teachings. His biblical approach to leadership is greatly needed in today's culture where many leaders are trying to build up themselves while stepping on those below them.

Having stated that, I was really looking forward to reviewing this Bible. I really wanted to see Maxwell comment on biblical passage as they related to leadership.

I chose the book of Ephesians and as I began to read the leadership undertones were quickly apparent. It first began with the introduction to the book of Ephesians.

The introduction sets up the reader for what the book's main points are and then points our sections on where leadership principles can be seen.

As the reader goes through the book, various comments point out leadership tactics and principles but also shows how an ineffective leader handled the situation.  The notes can be a bit heavy which can cause an interruption of reading but I found that they did not distract too much.

One section that I enjoy are the Profiles in Leadership. These give some background on a leader or leaders and give example of how they were effective/ineffective and lessons to learn from him/her/them, both positive and negative.

With that, the Bible itself is not too heavy, the print is decent, and the binding is solid. I will comment that the pages are thin and light which may cause some difficulty turning and some bleed-through of print on the other side. I did not find much of this but when I did it was annoying.

I still give this Bible a four-star rating and would encourage anyone in a leadership position to consider this resource.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Beside Bethesda by Joni Eareckson Tada

*I received this complimentary copy from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

This is not the easiest book to read. It is not difficult because of technical language or obscure references. Rather it is difficult because of the raw emotion and honesty that is felt throughout the pages.

Each page is written with the heart of a woman who desperately wanted to be healed from her paralysis. Joni Eareckson Tada pours her heart out in each word and by so doing, gives the reader hope because she has been in dark places emotionally and has come out healed.

Each day/chapter is built around her thoughts and then a Scripture or two that corresponds with her thought. She the concludes the chapter with a provoking thought at the end. This combination makes for a powerful devotional that stems from raw honestly and candor. It is books like these that should lead the world to a hope that Jesus offers, a hope that Tada knows intimately; a hope we all can know.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Killing Lions by John and Sam Eldredge

*I received this complimentary copy from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.
This is a must read book for any young man just high-school onward. It is a dialogue of two men in different stages of life trying to ascertain what it is to be a man.

From trials that they face to finding identity as a man, the Eldredges dive into problems that many young men face. As they explore these problems they do so with candor, fears, determination, and humility.

What this book is not is some psychological work on why we respond as we do. Rather it is a desire to know what causes to rise above, dig deep, and conquer our world. Why has God placed in men this desire? 
While the answer may be simple in stating it takes a lifetime to master with God’s help.

I really appreciated the honest desire to not accept anything but really wrestle with questions and doubts. It is this desire to know deeply because of working out issues that I really resonated with and appreciated.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by Dr. John Piper

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for my honest review.

This little book was written to draw the reader closer to, and understand more, what all Christ did when He came to earth as a human. Dr. Piper's wonderful language and imagery really impresses the reader on the full weight of what was happening on the very first Christmas.

Dr. Piper also desires that the reader experience the fullness of Christ; who He is, what He is, and His love for us. 

The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional by Chris Teigreen

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.

This devotional, while simple in its format, does well to make the reader think. With a Scripture first, followed by a devotional, and then a challenge, this book aims to get the reader to understand what hearing the voice of God is.

Once this foundation is laid, the next step is how to go about hearing the voice of God. Surprisingly, this is not difficult in word buy can be difficult in actin. Why? Tiegreen points out that many believe God no longer speaks to us through His Spirit. It is these readers that Tiegreen aims to address.

I found this devotional easy to read but challenging. It would be a great resource for anyone desiring to have a deeper relationship with God.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Yawning at Tigers by Drew Dyck

(I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review)

I finished this book last night and all I can say is: WOW!.

Many people have tried to make sense of God, or at least what sense we can make of God. We do our best to understand why things happen, what God's purpose is in all of it, and what God wants from us in reply.

This is not bad but there can be a degrading of the power and majesty of God. Why? We CANNOT understand Him. It is impossible to understand Him.

Sadly many have tried to make God out as something He is not. The title of this book comes from an event that the author, Drew Dyck, experienced while at a zoo.

Upon entering the big cats exhibit, Dyck and his family were trying to locate the tigers. Realizing that there was a observation window down the way, Dyck and his family walked down the path and found the tigers: a few feet away.

Nothing but a piece of thick plastic was all that separated his family from these powerful creatures. As they viewed this amazing creatures, a few teenagers came down the path. Seeing the tigers, they tried to get their attention but the tigers were not interested. At point they tried to make some noise to attract the tigers attention which seemed to annoy the animals. Eventually a "this is boring" tone came over the group and they left.

Dyck uses this as an illustration of how Christians have a powerful God but because of our improper view of Him (the plastic guard) we are not as respectful and awestruck by Him as we should be. The tiger appears tame and we yawn out of boredom.

In reality, when God revealed part of Himself, men were powerless and often fell and/or terrified. This is the tiger without the glass. We would not yawn at a tiger if he were to get out of his cage.

We need to reclaim our healthy respect for God and the message of this book is just that. A great book and I HIGHLY recommend getting a copy and using the study guide in the back for a small group session. It will be well worth it.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NIV Once-a-Day Bible for Leaders

(I received this Bible in exchange for my honest review from Booklook Bloggers)

This Bible is quite simple; Scripture and a thought. Each day has been divided so that the entire Bible is read in a year and each day ends with a challenge to leaders.

What is nice about this is no distractions. There are no study notes, columnar references, or dictionary helps. It is simply a Bible for a leader to read and then reflect/be challenged to be a better leader.

The Bible is built around simplicity even in its font size. It is a great font size that makes it easy to read. The different passages are clearly marked and the challenge at the end is distinguishable from the Scriptural text. Thus this Bible serves its intent well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Created for Influence by William L. Ford III

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Chosen Books.

In this expanded edition, Mr. Ford points out that prayer has the ability to change, not only the one praying, but the world. By showing through example of those who prayed for change had their prayers answered, Mr. Ford believes that such change is possible today.

The book goes into the power that is available to all Christians by praying to Almighty God for change and then to be ready when called to be a part of that change. Christians are to be influential and that starts with communion with God.  From there, the culture will be transformed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Speak by Nish Weisth

Everyone has a story. From where your birth took place, to how you were raised, your education and employment and much more. Your story is your life and Nish Weiseth wants you to tell your story to change the world.

In her book Speak, Weiseth gives stories of people who changed their communities, schools, churches, and more by simply using their story to connect with others. In addition, by understanding someone's story a person should be better equipped on understanding who that person is and why he/she acts the way he/she does.

I really enjoyed this book as it challenged me to see people's story before pronouncing judgment. Not only that but it also challenged me to build my life's story so that it will change others for the positive.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this review. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Overwhelmed by Perry Noble

Overwhelmed. It is a feeling that many with worry have. We worry because of all the things that could go wrong. We are overwhelmed by many of the things we have in our lives. Exhaustion leads to burn out which can lead to despair.

In his book Overwhelmed, Perry Noble writes about how weak we as humans are. We have this idea that we can do it all and are superhuman. Nothing is too difficult and when it seems to the contrary we try harder believe we can overcome. Instead what typically happens is being overwhelmed.

Enter God. God is bigger than our problems, fears, and worries. However, it is a sad, but true statement, that when we are stressed we often forget to spend time with God. We forget the God who is bigger than everything.

Perry Noble points out that our troubles start with the absence of God is our lives. We then struggle with more and more because we do not take things to God. We forget the source of our strength and thus become overwhelmed. Noble points out that we must let go of control and let God control the situation. This must be based on trust.

However, we trust not because we fear what might happen. We also have such a frantic pace in life that we do not have time to even get to know the God that we desperately need to trust. We also fear being disappointed as though God will somehow let us down.

Yet Noble shows again and again that God is faithful and will do what is right. We must align ourselves with Him and He will work all things together for good, including giving strength when feelings of being overwhelmed are present.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Call to Resurgence by Mark Driscoll

 Is American Christianity becoming a thing of the past? Is there a future for it?

Mark Driscoll address these questions and others in his book, A Call to Resurgence. In his book, Driscoll starts off with the challenges that face modern day, American Christianity and how the church arrived in this position.

He then goes into how churchs are going the way of tribes; holding on to beliefs, having chiefs, and fighting for their land. While some of this is not bad, when the fighting becomes nasty with verbal, and printed word, attacks the world shakes its head and becomes disinterested.

For example: one church may say that drums are okay and another say they are distracting. The outside world could care less and seeing churches fight over this trivial matter (I say trivial because sinner dying and going to hell do not have the same weight as use, or non-use, of percussion instruments) deters them form attending a church.

It is this type of combat that Driscoll is opposed to and wishes were not the case. However, there are some truths that must be fought over and not dismissed. Driscoll argues passionately that many in the church have let go of truth and it has caused great judgment and suffering.

From there, Driscoll goes into some church history and various beliefs within certain denominations. I found this section to be quite interesting as denominations arose because of certain understanding and interpretation of passages. While Driscoll does his best, even he admits that not everyone denomination holds to all the same tenets but as a whole most denominations stay close to certain beliefs.

The whole point of all this is to show that while we have differences, the church must continue to reach the lost and quick bickering among its various expressions. Once the whole world has heard, then we can debate some finer points but not before that. We need a resurgence of vibrant, active, and bold Christians to stand up for what they believe; standing up for truth. That is the heartbeat of this book and it is heard loud and clear.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Divorce rate is at 50%. Christians and non-Christians have the same divorce rate. Marriage is barely surviving as couples are not happy.

Most likely you have heard these statements or something similar. Guess what? Shaunti Feldhahn, in her book The Good News About Marriage, has debunked these statements.

By using current research, as well as analyzing previous data, Feldhahn points out that much of the information in the marriage arena is based on conjecture and forecasting; some from 20+ years ago.

That's right. It is not based on fact but on projections and forecasting of the researcher.

The good news. Divorce is closer to 20%, married couples are happier than previously thought, and divorced couples who remarry have about a 30% divorce rate.

Shaunti Feldhahn has done it again. Get this book and see for yourself.

Dear Son by David Bruskas


Dave Bruskas had a son whom he had for what seemed like a brief moment. His son died due to a congenital heart defect shorty after birth. In remembrance of the short time he had with his son, he wrote letters about lessons he would have taught, character traits he hoped to see developed, and a foundation upon which to build his legacy.

Each letter in the book is accompanied by a challenge as to why the letter was written. In these challenges, Bruskas points out potential areas of concern for young men but also goals that should be pursued as a man, husband, father, and Christian.

Areas such as providing, being a good citizen, leading, and others are all brought together in an effort to show just how power and amazing a man can be. Yet, this does not mean that responsibility is to be ignored.

On the contrary, Bruskas points out that responsibility is what separates the boys from the men. As such, he continuously edifies the male audience reading his book to embrace the responsibility given to him at whatever time in life he is. It is be embracing this responsibility that God blesses and uses because God knows this man can be trusted.

I LOVED this book. As a father of a five month old son I saw many traits I want to pass to my son but realizing that it must be done by example. I was so challenged by this book that I lent it to my father so that he can use it when mentoring men whom he exhorts.

Click on the image to see a video of Dear Son. It will be worth your time.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sinner's Creed by Scott Stapp

He had it all: fame, fortune, possessions, loyal fans. Then it all came crashing down like a house of cards. Scott Stapp was at the pinnacle in the rock and roll world but the mountain had an earthquake and that earthquake was Scott Stapp.

In his memoir, Stapp recalls his childhood and formative years with two fathers: one who left and one who controlled. Wanting so bad to be accepted and praised, Stapp worked hard at school, sports, and church. Yet, he felt that performance was the only way to be accepted.

Enter rock and roll.

Stapp found an outlet for his frustrations and anger. The lyrics and music reached into a part of his soul, a dark part that he wished were not there. As the music spoke to Stapp, he wanted so much to express himself that he formed a band. That band would later come to be known as Creed.

Working hard, touring, and performing, eventually brought about what Stapp wanted: acceptance. However, he realized that his acceptance was based on his performance yet again. Struggling with all the "benefits" that came with being the front man of a hugely successful band, Stapp started to cope with alcohol and drugs. These addictions led to an out-of-control person who tried, more than once, to end the pain; permanently.

Yet, through it all, Stapp continue to seek God. He desperately wanted to be free of his past, his fears...his demons. He struggled and struggled but soon he found grace from a God who Stapp thought had abandoned him. Still a "work in progress", Stapp's book is a breath of fresh air for those wanting to find acceptance and freedom from a performance-oriented life.

(Here Scott Stapp give an interview about his book)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What are You Afraid Of? by Dr. David Jeremiah

"[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself..." This famous quote by President Franklin Roosevelt resonates with so many because fear can grip and latch and never let go.

Fear is paralyzing and through its immobilizing affect it consumes the mind, the body, and sometimes the spirit. Why is this so? Is there anything that can be done about it? (See Dr. Jeremiah talk about his book)

In his book, Dr. Jeremiah address ten fears from which many have suffered. They are:

1. Disaster
2. Disease
3. Debt
4. Defeat
5. Disconnection (Loneliness)
6. Disapproval
7. Danger
8. Depression
9. Death
10. Deity (Fear of God)

With each fear, Dr. Jeremiah uses the Bible to show that God is in control and to rest in the peace He offers. Dr. Jeremiah does not deny that fear is crippling but he offers the hope that God is able to carry, and empower, one through any fear that may arise.Dr. Jeremiah also gives examples from Scripture of those that have suffered from one fear or another and how God intervened to show His power through their weakness.

This is a great book for anyone as fear is not selective. Having a resource like this could give comfort to those presently caught in the mire of fear.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Beautiful on the Mountain by Jeannie Light

Jeannie Light left her life and came to a small location in Virginia. Having left her home and life, she came upon a church in Graves Mill. When she asked why the church was never completed, one lady informed that they couldn't agree on a color. Thus the church was left to sit.

That began the process by which Light started to interact with the locals and finish the church. As she came to know the people better, she faced many challenges such as: snakes, old customs, finding materials, and religious beliefs.

Yet through it all she placed her faith that God knew what He was doing placing her in Graves Mill. That faith proved itself when the church was completed and the locals began to attend.

While not my style of  narrative, the book was easy to follow and understand. I did find the development of the story a bit rough but then again it read more like a journal than a story. That said, for those who are wondering why God has placed them where He has, this might be the book for you.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Echoes of an Angel by Aquanetta Gordon

Ben Underwood was two when his sight was taken by cancer. With both eyes removed many assumed that Ben would live the life a normal, blind person. Ben proved them all wrong.

Ben, with help from his mother (the author of this book) developed, what can best be called, human echolocation. With this ability he was able to walk without a guide cane, ride a bike, play hide and seek, and even participate in karate classes.

Echoes of an Angel gives the story of Ben's life from the perspective of his mother. She chronicles his amazing development and ability as he lived his life by seeing with sound.

Ben's mother Aquanetta Gordon
His amazing journey inspired many such as: Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, Ellen DeGeneres, and even the British equivalent of PBS (see documentary here). His unique life allowed him to travel to places like Japan, and he even caught the attention of Brazilian news. 

While his life was cut short, his legacy continues in the hearts of those who knew him and those that saw him.

Follow the story of Ben's life in Echoes of an Angle. You will be touched greatly by this extraordinary life.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Abraham by Charles Swindoll

He is the "father of a great nation", the man through whom "all the nations of the earth will be blessed." He is father of Isaac, the grandfather of Jacob, and through his line comes David, Solomon, Daniel, John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ.

Yet, there is much that can be overlooked about Abraham by just casually reading his story in Genesis. Charles Swindoll was written a wonderful book giving insight into who Abraham might have been and why he may have done what he did.

By using historical information about the time in which Abraham lived, such as customs and beliefs, Swindoll has allowed the reader a better view of Abraham.

I found this very helpful as I often was perplexed by some of the decisions Abraham made. Seeing now that is was the custom of the time really enlightened my understanding of certain passages in Scripture.

I also enjoyed how Swindoll showed Abraham as he was: a man. He was a man that made mistakes, had doubts, and suffered because of his errors. Yet, God still used him in a marvelous way. Such encouragement is readily accpeted that if Abraham can be used by God with his faults, so can I.

Impact Player by Bobby Richardson

Imagine playing next to ball players like Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. These legends defined the game of baseball and have a lasting impact on its history. Bobby Richardson has such an opportunity.

He played with some of the most famous Yankees to ever don the pinstripes. Yet through it all he maintained his faith in God and Jesus Christ.

Richardson recalls his rising up through the farm system of the Yankees to eventually being the starting second baseman for perhaps the greatest era in Major League Baseball history.From there it is story after story of his Yankees days, the friends he made, the games he remembers, and the legacy that is left behind.

Yet he desires that his legacy be that of a Christian who played baseball and had a lasting impact in the faith of his teammates.

While many would expect a book of accomplishments, Richardson instead writes a book about family, friends, and faith; stats do not matter in such a book. Through it all, Richardson inspires his readers to place more value on things that matter and less on this that are temporal. In a time when athletes are role models that sometimes seek to serve their own purpose, Richardson is proof that such an attitude need not be the norm. And for that, I love this book.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Simplify by Bill Hybels

*I received this complementary copy from Tydanle in exchange for my honest review.

Exhausted? It seems to be a theme these days that many people are tired, burnt out, and desperate for some rest. The rat race has us spinning the wheel, going nowhere, but feeling like we are ever so close.

Introduce Simplify by Bill Hybels.

Mr. Hybels has been there...and is still there. Trying to juggle his non-profit world and his family life is no small task. Yet, he has addressed ten areas in this book that if can be controlled, instead of controlling, should lead to a life of enjoyment and satisfaction instead of misery and emptiness.

Some of these areas discuss: having a good exercise program, managing finances, controlling fears, and having good relationships.

It is worth noting that when things are not as they should be, people tend to became less dedicated to various areas of life and this can cause exhaustion and frustration.

For example, if one does not exercise regularly, then health problems can occur. This can lead to not feeling well and not interacting with relationships. Relational disconnect can lead to allow fears to be overcoming instead of asking for counsel and/or prayer. Thus, the one area can affect many.

I really enjoy the section on fear as I tend to be a worrier and allow my mind to get the better of me. By focusing on my all powerful God and His protection and control, I can relax my fears and enjoy life. Thus, I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who wants to unclutter their soul.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

 Imagine having to clean out a house and finding letters to God from another person. Just think of what it would be like to have an inner look into a person's life through the medium of the written word.

In the Prayer Box, Lisa Wingate takes the reader on a journey of life from the perspective of seeing it through another's eyes. By reading the letters the reader is brought into a life of introspection and thought. The realization that life is not always simple and reading about another's journey through similar circumstances gives powerful encouragement to keep going, no matter the difficulty.

I resonate with this because my dad is one who writes a devotional for his sons and I can see how he displays part of who is he, what he has experienced, and how we can learn from it.

While I am not a lover of fiction, this book is a great way to bridge the theological and philosophical questions one might have while experiencing the life God has given. In that, it is a great read.

Lead...for God's Sake by Todd Gongwer

 "What we have is a lack of leadership!" It started off with a coach frustrated by his players not playing like a team. No matter what he tried he could not get the gelling that is required for teams to succeed.

He then found a compatriot in his friend who was having similar troubles in the business world. Employees just wanted to get paid and when the money was good so was morale. When the money wasn't there neither were the employees.

What was missing?

In his book LEAD for God's Sake! Todd Gongwer takes the reader on an inspirational fiction about where to find the heart of leadership. Through this wonderfully written story, Gongwer lays the foundation for what a leader should be and how to express their leadership properly.

I found this book to very engaging and exciting. I was having a hard time putting it down as the story developed. This would be a great book for anyone who is in a place of leadership no matter the environment.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Fight by Luke Wordley

A trouble teen, Sam Pennington has a past that haunts him. He try to find his solution in sports but to no avail. While en route to home he is attacked and rescued by a boxer in training.

Sam is introduced to the boxer's trainer and the story unfolds from there. With some twists and turns, Sam and his trainer realize that they are not fighting their opponents but themselves and their past. In the end, they realize what truly matters and cease the fighting.

I must admit that I do not normally read much fiction but was really impressed with this book. The writing was excellent and the character development was well done. I found myself engaged and waiting to see what would happen. Overall, a well written book.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Knowing God by Name by David Wilkerson

*I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Chosen Books

This book is a great devotional using the names of God and how God revealed himself to people of the Bible. From "God will provide", "God is forgiveness", and more, Wilkerson shows that God is more than just a Creator. He wants to be known by man and has made Himself known by His various names.

What I really enjoyed was the simplicity that the book has that brought much depth. Do we really appreciate all that is when God says, "I am mercy"? Wilkerson bring this, and more to his book.

Knowing God by Name is an excellent read for those who need hope, encouragement, or simply want to draw closer to God.

Monday, July 21, 2014

C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity by Paul McCusker

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers via their Tyndale Blog Network. The review is my honest review.

This book is a look into how C.S. Lewis became the popular author that he is today. It gives account of how Lewis was asked to give radio broadcasts during World War II and how that paved the way for several of his popular books.

What the book also does is give some personal insight into who C. S. Lewis was, his home life and upbringing, his service in World War I, and ultimately how he came to be a Christian.

This allows for historical context of how the books that many Christians have come to enjoy were developed. Too often the works of an author are judged without knowing the history behind each book. McCusker has help bridge the gap between the C. S. Lewis the man and C. S. Lewis the author.

I really enjoyed seeing the struggles that Lewis had to go through even in giving his broadcasts. There were time constraints, taboo subject matter, and even schedule conflicts that could have easily diminished the potency of Lewis' talks.

Yet, Lewis pressed forward and the world was better because of it. McCusker has done a wonderful job of peeling back the life of a somewhat private man and showing the world a little more of who C. S. Lewis was.