Wednesday, February 26, 2014

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert

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

When I heard about this book from a review by a friend I thought it would be a great resource to have. I was right. This book is a great tool on how to properly use aid when dealing with the poor. The solution is not to throw money at the problem but rather find out what is causing the poverty.

Corbett and Fikkert do an excellent job of giving their foundation for helping the hurting: Jesus. Jesus came to earth and helped the hurting. By His example we should do the same. However, there is a way to do so without making this worse than before.

The first thing is find out what type of poverty it is. Is it poverty by tragedy (hurricane, tsunami, medical reasons), economic environment (low income job, high cost of living) or lack of initiative? What the authors have done is show that each situation is not the same. It is the proverbial feed a man to fish, but make sure that there is a river in which to fish.

What was addressed, that never dawned on me, was the mental and psychological battering that the poor are assaulted with that a middle income earner does not face. Thoughts of worthlessness, stupidity, hopelessness, and others plague the poor. These items must be addressed but the solution is not always to give financial aid. What then is the proper response? That depends on the cause.

Sometimes the proper response is to give money but that such situations needs to be examined carefully. It may only be a one time need (i.e. car trouble, damages because of natural disasters, etc) and such needs may be solved by money. However, what about the situations like poor education, loss of a job,  etc.? Giving money will not fix these problems but it is often used because it is one of the easiest.

This gets to the heart of the book: overcoming poverty requires a long term approach. It demands time, energy, relationships, and perseverance. It requires getting to know the people who make up the poor, understanding their fears, dreams, thoughts, and worldviews. This is how to help without hurting: empowerment.

This is a great book and should be on the shelf of anyone involved in ministering to those in impoverished environments. I highly recommend that every pastor, homeless shelter director, and missions organization get a copy. In fact, get more than one so you can lend out a copy or two. It will be well worth it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Leadership RE:Vision by Jim Seybert

I've been reading this book for over six months now and its simple, but powerful, sections are timely for leaders.What is especially nice is that it is Biblically based but not sermon-like in its content. A leader can spend a few minutes reading a section but spend a great deal of time mediating on areas that are applicable. Leaders would do well to get a copy of this book.

Read the first chapter here

FYI - I received this book free from Tyndale Rewards. You should check it out and earn a book or two yourself.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Exploring Christian Theology, Volume 3

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

I know that most theology books can bore the average reader. Terms and phrases, ideologies and stances, and to make matters worse, use of Latin. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good Latin phrase but not entire sentences or paragraphs.

However, in their book Holsteen and Svigel have done something quite remarkable: they made theology understandable and enjoyable.

The first section deals with how various denominations came to be and the teachings of those denominations. The book gives a brief history starting with the early church, moving through the medieval times, and then to the present. It sets a good foundation for the reasons for differences of Biblical interpretation and how those differences formulated the various church denominations we know today.

What is exceptionally done is that the authors make no claim as to who was/is right and who was/is not. The facts are presented fairly and honestly which allows the reader to get an understanding of Christendom and its growth. I found myself seeing connections that make a lot of sense and appreciating the discomfort that the church has gone through during her development.

The second half is on the end times or eschatology. This is where the book does a masterful job. It explains different viewpoints and how those viewpoints came to be. Again, no prejudices are stated and the reader is allowed to see the teachings as they are.

A very condensed, but well developed book. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Confession of a Boy-Crazy Girl by Paula Hendricks

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

I can image what some of you may be thinking, "isn't this a book for girls? Why is a guy reading it?" It is true that I am a guy, I am married, I am not a teenager, and I am not boy-crazy. (My wife affirms all the aforementioned)

Paula is a good friend of mine and has been for about seven years. We used to attend a discussion group about the application of our Christian faith in today's world. To hear that she was writing a book was a joy and I really wanted to read it.

That said, here is a guy's perspective on Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl.

The first thing I noticed was the openness that Paula has on the pages. This was not a do/do not type of book. It was Paula's story and what she learned along the way.

From early in life to the present day Paula shares struggles, fears, sins, but also joys, growth, and a desire to be Christ-like. What I really appreciate is that Paula is not shy about calling sins in her life what they are: lust, envy, jealousy, fear, etc. Her heart, felt throughout the book, is that girls find their true worth, value, and acceptance in Christ. These are lessons that we all should learn regardless of our sex and age.

Another trait running through the pages is passion. Passion to really know God, his son Jesus, and what it means to be a woman who is free in Christ. So much of our culture demands that women dress a certain way, have certain measurements, have flawless features, and that is true femininity. WRONG!!!

Paula makes this very clear: acceptance cannot be found in that which will fade away. Beauty is not skin deep, looks are. Beauty comes from loving your Creator and how He created you. Easy? No. Worth it? Absolutely! Paula went through much pain to understand this and shares as much in this journal-like book.

Thus, as a youth pastor, I HIGHLY recommend this book not only to girls struggling with boy-craziness but also to those of us who will counsel these young women. Their lives and souls are potentially at stake. To not combat the lies of our culture is to do them an egregious error.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Win the Book: Confession of a Boy Crazy Girl

The following is taken directly from Paula's website:

Sound familiar?
  1. You spot a cute boy (we’ll call him Boy A).
  2. You dream about Boy A.
  3. You do whatever it takes to make Boy A notice you.
  4. Even though Boy A doesn’t pursue you, you hang on to your dream of Boy A until he (a) moves to the North Pole with no access to a cell phone or computer, (b) dies and is buried or cremated, or (c) begins dating another girl.
  5. You mend your broken heart by hating Boy A and finding another cute boy (Boy B). You replace Boy A with Boy B and begin all over again . . .
I’ve gone through an entire alphabet—and more—of boys over the years.
As I share my journal entries and stories—the good, the bad, and the ugly—you’ll be encouraged to trust God with your love life and buckle up for the ride!
Written for teen girls, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl will help you on your own journey from neediness to freedom.

I happen to have a signed copy of Confession of a Boy Crazy Girl by Paula Hendricks that I am giving away. That's right: a signed copy. Simply comment and one winner will be chosen at random. My giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST February 12th, 2014. Also, don't forget to follow my blog and get updates on books that I have reviewed.