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.