Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Trip Around the Sun by Mark Batterson

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

This book is a rather unique work in that it is written by two men. Each of them gives a small account of his life, what they learned, and what they hope to pass on to others.

The core of the book is adventure. Living life like the adventure that it is. Each of the authors tell a story from their lives, and then these stories are summarized in a brief challenge at the end of each chapter.

I enjoy this book a lot and really appreciated the honesty and organic nature of each chapter. Life is meant to be lived; live it. That is what this book has for its heart.

Monday, June 29, 2015

From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover

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

Am I a good...(fill in the blank)?

It is a question that many will ask themselves over time. Christine Hoover has and she found out that God is not concerned with how "good" she is but rather how much He loves her and how much she extends His love to others.

In From Good to Grace, Hoover tells the story of her journey of how she let go of "goodness" mentality and embrace the abundant life that God offers.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dead Dog Like Me by Max Davis

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

A life in the spotlight as a pastor, author, speaker, and television guest; Nick Gregory seemed to have the ideal, Christian life.

All that was unraveling as Nick's son was killed and Nick felt the blame personally: very personally.

In a fit of anger and pain, Nick drove his vehicle like a mad man and in the process: ran over his dog, wrecked his car, broke his back, and...ended up in Israel?

Follow Nick's story in this thought-provoking book Dead Dog Like Me by Max Davis. Read how Nick began to identify with a self-described "dead dog" and felt God's love and peace during a dark time.

I really enjoyed this book and how well it moved. I am not much of a fiction reader but enjoy a good story once in a while. This is just that; a well written story. I saw the depth of characters and was challenged with the depth of God's love and mercy.

For the dog-lover in your life this book may be a great gift.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dad's Devotional Bible (NIV)

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

I am usually on the lookout for a good devotional Bible, especially if that Bible is geared towards men/fathers. Being a father is an amazing role, one that I enjoy, even with its challenges.

That said, there are times when you seem like your back is against the wall and you need that encouraging thought to strengthen your resolve.

This devotional Bible is unique in that devotions are inserted in the text so that you can read the Bible or read the section associated with each devotional.

I really like this feature. The devotional Bibles I have had in the past would have a thought or challenge along with the Scriptural passage for that day's reading. This Bible does away with that in favor of using a devotion inside of the text rather than a devotion with the text.

I also enjoy the additional items for fathers like the articles for building your children. They use the Bible to not only challenge me as a father but also as a mentor and leader.

This is a nice Bible for the father in your life and would be a great gift for a new Christian dad. 

Tune into WOW Leadership by Sheri Staak

*I received this complimentary copy from Greenleaf Book Group Press in exchange for my honest review.

Leadership. It is a hot topic these days and for good reason. It seems harder and harder to find good leaders. Sheri Staak knows this and has written about WOW leaders versus DUD leaders.

And to top it off she uses television shows to prove her point. I was a bit skeptical at first but after reading her book I was impressed by the points that were made.

Staak uses shows, both past and current, to show how great leaders have had a draw to us. Be it Star Trek, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger (my personal favorite), others, society seems to desire a leader who serves others, stands for what is right, and does not compromise on his/her ethics.

I really appreciated this heart as I read Staak's book. Leadership is developed and, like a good television show, when developed correctly creates a following.

We need more leaders today. Maybe we should pay a bit more attention to the television heroes we so eagerly follow. They may have more to teach us than we realize.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happiness According to Jesus by Bobby Schuller

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

Happiness. It is something that almost all of humanity desires. It is the proverbial carrot that is placed before the donkey that is just out of reach. No matter what we try to do happiness seems to elude us.

Is it because we misunderstand the origin of happiness? In his book, Happiness According to Jesus, Bobby Schuller uses the Sermon on the Mount to show how Jesus defines happiness.

From anger, sex, love, self-righteousness, and others, Schuller uses the Sermon on the Mount to show that Jesus has a different view of happiness.

Rather than finding happiness in things, Jesus tells his followers to find happiness in letting go and letting God provide.

Instead of worrying, Jesus tells us to see how God provides for the animals. Since we are more important than the animals, does not it stand to reason God will provide for us? In the area of pride, instead of defending ourselves when insulted, Jesus says to try and find a way to make that enemy a friend.


Yet that is how Jesus defines happiness. Living for a higher calling; God's calling.

I found this book to be a great challenge and motivator to live for happiness God's way. Letting go of my desire to fight for my share and letting God bless me for being obedient. It is not easy, but then again, the best things in life usually take effort.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Kingdom Come by Reggie McNeal

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

I must admit that this book was a challenge for me. I am not quite sure how I feel about the contents. On the one hand I understand I see where McNeal is coming from but on the other hand I have my reservations.

Perhaps that is why McNeal wrote this book. People like me to need to evaluate what we believe and whether or not it is Biblical.

That is where this book enters. In Kingdom Come, McNeal challenges the reader to really look at why many focus on getting "church" right when the focus should be on advancing the Kingdom of God.

Sadly, many people, and I having been one of them, equate the church and the Kingdom of God. This is not so. The church is to promote and advance the Kingdom of God but the Kingdom of God is not the church. Why?

"The Kingdom of God", as McNeal writes, "is life as God intends it to be, His original blueprint for all of creation." When understood, this means that the church plays a role but is not the goal; fulfilling-life with God is.

From this point, McNeal wants church leaders to focus outwards (think missional) and less inward (think church development). It is not to say that the focus should not be on church but that the first focus is going to those that do not know God and His Son Jesus.

McNeal suggests more community involvement with members of that community. Helping in hunger programs, clothing drives, reading initiatives, and such. He also advocates partnering with non-Christian groups for the benefit of the community with the knowledge that God will use such work to advance His Kingdom.

This is where my struggle began. Working with atheists, for example, to feed the hungry in the community. We have differences of theological beliefs, yet putting those aside for the hungry is hard. I struggled with questions of working with theological opposition and whether or not it is wise to do so.

I have not come to an answer but perhaps that is what McNeal wants; to get me to questioning.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Awakening to God by Gerard Long

Are you asleep? I find it interesting you cannot answer that question. If you answer  then you are not asleep.

Many people are spiritually asleep and do not know it. Gerard Long wants people to wake up; not for themselves but for God.

There is so much life that God has for us yet many choose not follow God into an abundant life. Why?

God has a purpose; some revealed and some not revealed. Yet, many will not go even so far as to walk in faith. "I have no idea what God wants from me" is something that might be heard.

Are you listening to Him?

Long points out that God is speaking but we have not have our ears tuned to His music. Suffering, brokenness, opportunities, love, and more are all part of the symphony of God's workings.

Sadly, many do not see God in all that He does. We try to understand it all in our own strength when the All-Powerful is offering His strength to carry us. Gerard Long wants you to experience God's power and discover His purpose for you. Awakening to God is his book to challenge his readers to find God: even in the places we may have forgotten.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Empire's End by Jerry Jenkins

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

I was so excited to read this book. Having read I, Saul I was ready to see where he was going to take Paul in his newest novel.

I was not disappointed.

The characters came to  lie as I read the book. I could feel them think, ache, love, and struggle. What was the most amazing thing is that, while no one knows for sure all of what happened to Paul, I could see how what Jenkins described could have played out.

Not only that but the way in which Jenkins peppers Scripture into this novel was genius. It really added a life to Paul that I had not anticipated. I would be curious to sit next to Paul and asked him how close Jerry Jenkins came to describing him. Would not that be a great conversation to hear?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Launch Your Encore Finding Adventure and Purpose Later in Life by: Hans Finzel, Rick Hicks

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

A lot of our society in the United States is bent towards staying young. We have creams, potions, foods to eat or not eat, exercising, and even having surgeries.

In Launch Your Encore, Finzel and Hicks believe that just because a person ages does not mean that their usefulness diminshes. In fact, they would suggest that a "second career" should take place.

They show that maturity is greatly needed today and that such people should take the initiative to find adventure and to live with purpose in the later stages of life.

What I liked about this book is that getting older is not something to fear but rather be enjoyed and then shared with the next generation. Would more seasoned people take this approach I believe our society would greatly benefit.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Reformation Study Bible: ESV

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

I own an older edition of this study Bible, the NKJV one, and was exited to hear about an update to this Study Bible.

I am amazed at the level of study notes, commentaries, book introductions, and appendices. It is apparent that much thought went into what to include in this Bible.

My favorite has to be some of the creeds of the faith such as The Apostle's Creed and The Nicene Creed. I really enjoy the history that these creeds provide.

While I would like to go into more detail about this Bible, I will instead direct my followers to their website here. Consider purchasing a copy for yourself. If you fancy the NKJV I understand that this translation is set to be released in September of 2015.

How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible by Keith Ferrin

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

Reading my Bible. As the son of a pastor, been in church all my life, taught young-men's Sunday School, and presently teach the College & Career Sunday morning class, I know the value of reading my Bible.

I have read books on Bible reading, heard messages on it, and have purchased Bible study software to help me to better understand the Bible.

Yet, I still have the struggle of reading my Bible just like many other Christians I know.


I know the value of reading. I know that the Bible is my source of wisdom, love, and strength. I know that Jesus died for me and wrote a love letter to me explaining why. However, I keep coming back to this: I do not find reading the Bible enjoyable.

In his new book How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible, Keith Ferrin lays out how he came to enjoy, yes, enjoy reading his Bible. He details his own struggle on Bible reading and what he suggests to do in order to enjoy Bible reading as he does.

There is nothing profound in this book and yet I found it so refreshing to read. By keeping it simple and easy to do, Ferrin has primed the pump for anyone who struggles with Bible reading to begin a life of Bible-reading enjoyment.

GET THIS BOOK!!! Whether you are new to Bible reading or seasoned, go out and buy a copy. I will not give my reasons why; Ferrin has done that very nicely on his own. Read his book and you will see what I mean.