Wednesday, September 28, 2011

By Calvin Miller

OVERVIEW: In this book, Calvin Miller shares his well-earned wisdom with the next generation of pastors. He acknowledges much has changed over his years of ministry, as we've moved from switchboards to smartphones and from big-haired evangelists to cigar-smoking emergents. But two truths remain; God is love, and people are broken. In his honest, engaging, and humorous collection of letters, he encourages you to fight the good fight, stay the course, and keep your eye on the Author and Finisher of the faith.

AUTHOR: Calvin Miller was the pastor of Westside Church in Omaha, Nebraska, for twenty-five years. After teaching seven years at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he joined the faculty of Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, where he serves as research professor and distinguished writer-in-residence. He is the author of more than forty books.

MY REVIEW: I agree with Ed Stetzer, author, church planter and director of LifeWay Research, who called this book "A gift to the church...a gift to young pastors."  And what a gift it is! Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School said, "This is the irrepressible Calvin Miller at his best." I agree. I have read many of Miller's forty books and this is one of the best.

This is an honest look at the church and the work of the pastor. Miller loves the church and he loves young pastors. Like a father who loves his children he can tell the truth about the church and preachers because of the great love he has for them. This is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. Miller sees humor in almost everything that happens in the church and uses that humor to drive home great truth.

I wish I could have read a book like this when I started in full-time ministry. I will be recommending it to all the young pastors I know--but not only pastors, I will recommend it to all who love the church and care about pastors. There is something in this book for all Christians.

***Thanks to The B&B Media Group for providing my review copy.


Monday, September 26, 2011


In  EVERY DAY A FRIDAY, bestselling author Joel Osteen offers encouragement, spiritual guidance, and practical advice on how to find joy and happiness in every day of the week, every day of your life.

Whatever challenges you may face, whatever circumstances are weighing you down, you can choose your response. It's not what happens to you or what you have or don't have that is important; it's how your mind is set and the decisions you make. How you live your life is totally up to you. It's not dependent on your circumstances. It's dependent on your choices. By being aware of the thoughts and feelings that come to you each day, you can choose to tune in to happiness just as you can choose the station on your car radio. Tune out the negative thoughts and feelings and tune in to God's blessings in your life.

Osteen encourages you to be a source of happiness to others by being a source of understanding and support. Instead of being quick to judge or criticize, he offers ways for you to discover the happiness and fulfillment that come from being the kind of person who inspires and motivates others.

Osteen has described this message as a core theme of his ministry. Combining his personal experiences with scriptural insights and principles for true happiness, he shows you how every day can hold the same promise and opportunities for pure joy that we all experience at five o'clock on Friday.

Joel Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Listed by several sources as America' largest and fastest-growing congregation, Lakewood Church has approximately 45,000 attendees every week. Millions more watch Joel's messages as they are broadcast on national and international television networks. 

If you are looking for a book that is deep into theology and providing an answer to all of your doctrinal questions---this is not it. So do me a favor. Don't run out and buy this book and then criticize Joel because he's not Biblical enough for you. Whatever that means. If you want a book like that then buy a book on systematic theology.

I recommend this book for those of you looking for a more positive, happier way to live. Not just occasionally, but every day. This book will help you be excited to be alive at this moment and the moments of each day. The book is divided into seven different parts. I think it would be good to read one part each day for a week and then start over again. It will help you have a happier week and all those who come in contact with you

(This book was given to me by Hachette Book Group for this review.)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Experiencing Pure Joy In Your Life
By Rob Westfall

OVERVIEW: The Fulfillment Principle is packed with stories― encouragement and motivation to help readers pursue their God-given gifts in order to experience the joy of a lifetime―for a lifetime. Drawing on the challenge from Jesus' parable of the talents, Westfall shows readers how the Creator of the universe hands His children a clear, concise blueprint for pure joy. They will see the extraordinary impact individuals can have when they choose to use their gifts and not bury them. They will learn: How to discover their God-given talents, how to invest the talents God has given them and how to realize a life of joy and fulfillment.

AUTHOR: Bob Westfall is president of the Westfall Group which serves charities and Christian ministries in financial stewardship and communications. He frequently speaks at national conferences and to charity boards, philanthropists, churches and other groups. Previously he served as the Senior VP for development for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries (WTB). He currently lives in Suwanee, Georgia, with his wife, Kim, and is the parent of four children.

MY REVIEW: Compared to the many books I read and review this is a small one―one hundred twenty-three pages. There are nine brief power packed chapters. There are not many words on each page or in each chapter but they are filled with meaning. As in many books Bob has selected a quote that begins each chapter. Quotes from Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Erma Bombeck and many others. And what I like about these quotes is that they are good. Not just quotes, but good quotes! They fit with what he is writing about.

I like what Bob told a young man who wasn't feeling much joy in his life. He said to him: "What God's looking for is faithfulness in the little things, the things that may not seem important to you. Are you going to invest in that which God has given you today, the things you may not have even noticed, but the things that, I can assure you, matter to him? When you show that you value the talents he's already given you, then he can trust you with more―and you can enter into his joy." These words helped change the young man's life. I believe this book can help change yours―for the better.

(This book was given to me by the B & B Media Group, Inc. for this review.)


Monday, September 19, 2011

Embracing A Theology of Risk, Adventure and Courage
By Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch

OVERVIEW: So much of our lives is caught up in the development and maintenance of security and control. But as Helen Keller observed, "Security is mostly a superstition...Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." And when our only experience of Christianity is safe and controlled, we miss the simple fact that faith involves risk.

In The Faith of Leap, Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch challenge you to leave the idol of security behind and courageously live the adventure that is inherent in our God and in our calling. Their corrective to the dull, adventureless, risk-free phenomenon that describes so much of contemporary Christianity explores the nature of adventure, risk, and courage and the implications for church, discipleship, spirituality, and leadership. (From the back of the book.)

AUTHORS: Michael Frost is an internationally recognized Australian missiologist and one of the leading voices in the missional church movement. His books are required reading in colleges and seminaries around the world, and he is much sought after as an international conference speaker. He is the vice principal of Morling College and the founding director of the Tinsley Institute, a mission study center located at Morling College in Sydney, Australia. He is the author or editor of ten theological books.

Alan Hirsch is the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network. He is the cofounder of and currently he leads an innovative learning program called Future Travelers, helping numerous megachurches become missional movements. Known for his innovative approach to mission, Alan is a teacher and key mission strategist for churches across the Western world. He is the author of several books and his popular book The Shaping of Things to Come (with Michael Frost) is widely considered to be a seminal text on mission.

MY REVIEW: Every review I have read of this book, praises it to the sky. And I only read one review that found anything wrong with it. And that fault was minor. And I too found much to praise about this book. But I also found it hard to read and follow. I kept having to look up words that are new to me and re-read sentences and paragraphs that I couldn't completely comprehend in the first reading. So my review will not be as glowing as others I have read. Now, let me quickly say that I am not as well read in the field of missions as I would like to be and I have never been proud of my vocabulary. However, I am a retired pastor of almost fifty years, have a Masters Degree in Bible/Religion and a large library. So I am not a complete dunce although I admit I am lacking in some areas when it comes to reading this book.

I like the call to a theology of risk, adventure and courage. I learned from the stories of those who have found the courage to venture out and take risks for the cause of Christ and for His glory. I recommend this book to pastors and teachers but I think the "average" Christian will find the same difficulties with reading the book that I did. But I can't end on this note. I must say, I agree completely with the authors that "God is a God of adventure, and a life well lived." Therefore I agree with them that "a life of discipleship, must be one that can take risks as we courageously follow our Lord." This is what they call the faith of leap.

(I received this book from C.Grand and Company for this review.)


Friday, September 16, 2011

What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me About Life
By Mike Cope

OVERVIEW: She was a beautiful pint-sized girl whose only spoken sentence was, "I'm Megan!" But the best scholars in the world couldn't teach what she did in her brief life. Megan died at age ten. Her short life exposed some of the insanities of the world and revealed some life-giving secrets.

Lovingly written by Megan's father, this unique inspirational book wraps these secrets in stories that will restore hope to those grieving losses and to those living with life's second choices. The first half of the book is about the power of her life--a frail, fragile, broken life. The second half pushes further into themes of loss, joy, doubt, faith, grief, and hope. Through it all, readers will laugh and cry and be blessed by God's incredible wisdom spoken through the life of a disabled child. (From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: Mike Cope has for many years spoken to large audiences around the country about what really matters. An author of four books, a blogger, a pastor, and an editor of two magazines, Mike currently teaches a class of three hundred university students each semester at Abilene Christian University and works with Heartbeat, a nonprofit company that focuses on culture and religion. Mike and his wife, Diane, live in Abilene, Texas, and have been married thirty-three years. They have two surviving children Matt, a physician, and Chris, a freshman in college.

MY REVIEW: No book, in a long time, has touched me so deeply as Megan's Secrets. I laughed and mostly cried my way from his words of dedication until the final words: "I now await that next kiss. I eagerly await God's final work of new creation. A time to set things right. A time to wipe away all tears. And a time to be reunited with Megan, my daughter and my teacher."

I agree completely with the words of Max Lucado: "The world would look at Megan Cope and her brief little life and see limitations, imperfections, inabilities. Her dad, just like her heavenly Father, saw something else entirely. Joy. Big heart. Love. Wisdom. Raising a disabled daughter, and then saying goodbye after a brief ten years of life, Mike knows the struggles, triumphs, pain, everyday miracles...and the secrets. Secrets God shares with those who care for the least among us. In Megan's Secrets, my friend Mike shares the wisdom he learned from loving Megan."

I recommend this book not just to parents of children with special challenges and parents who have lost children. I recommend it to everybody who needs to hear Mike's words of wisdom on the themes of loss, joy, doubt, faith, grief and hope.

(This book was provided to me by The B&B Media Group Inc. for this review.)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

*Stress-Free Believers Book
*Stress-Free Believers Group Study DVD
*Stress-Free 5-CD Audio Book
*Stress Relief Aromatherapy from Bath & Body Works
      *1.6 oz. Filled Candle
      *Travel-Size Body Wash & Foam Bath
      *Travel-Size Body Lotion

Read the review and leave a comment for a chance to be selected as the winner for the Grand Prize. The winner will be selected September 26.

Turn Worry Into Faith, Turmoil Into Peace
By Harold Metzel

OVERVIEW: Do you keep a clear head during times of stress? Loss of employment, marital conflict, credit card debt, and other pressure points are managed when you're cool-headed. Here is the battle plan you need to get harmful stress off your back so you can manage the tough times with composure.

You'll learn how to: Convert your thoughts from worry to faith. Develop patience in the midst of chaos. Take control of your thinking, emotions, and commitments. Identify the tools God has given you to overcome stress. Recognize the part you play in God's comprehensive plan. Allow God to work in your life as He did in the life of Jesus.

This step-by step guide shows how to reduce unhealthy levels of stress in each area of daily living. The objective is not just to overcome our ordeals but to do so without anxiety.

AUTHOR: Harold Metzel, a 30-year veteran as pastor, missionary, Bible College president, and VP of a large charitable foundation in San Diego, currently coaches individuals and pastoral staff on ways to become ever better stewards of what God have given.

MY REVIEW: As a minister for forty-seven years I met many, many stressed out Christians. So when I was offered the opportunity to review this book, I was eager to do it. We live in a pressure filled society and nobody is immune to stress. Will this book help? I believe it will. I especially like the fact that it is written in a way that makes it an excellent study guide for small groups. Individuals will profit from studying Metzel's book but small groups will benefit from discussing, questioning and sharing.

I want to recommend this book to my friends but I want to say that I have not personally experienced some of the things that Harold Metzel has experienced in his life. For example: in the Afterward he tells about an encounter he had with the devil. He said, "You may choose to believe this or not. There may not be a lot of theological argument to substantiate it." I appreciate his attitude and I don't believe there is a lot of theological argument to substantiate his story. However, for me, this does not distract from the value of his book. You may believe and appreciate his witness. We live in a stress filled world. Get this book. It will help!

(I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kathy Carlton Willis Communications for this review.)