Thursday, October 31, 2013

When The Odds Are Against You,
God Is For You
By Matt Keller

OVERVIEW: God of the Underdogs taps into a recognizable metaphor to show how the Creator of the universe wants to use you to accomplish great things for him. By weaving his own underdog story with the stories of some of the Bible's greatest underdog heroes. Matt Keller demonstrates that men and women like Moses, Esther, King David, the apostle Paul, and even Jesus shared the "But I can't..." sentiment. They considered themselves ordinary―but God saw them as extraordinary!

AUTHOR: Matt Keller, founding pastor of Next Level Church in Ft. Myers, Fl. is known for his passionate and humorous communication style. Matt travels and speaks frequently, inspiring and teaching both inside and outside of the church. Matt writes regularly on his website.

MY REVIEW: Most of us love an underdog. Matt Keller tells us in this book that God also loves the underdog. Matt won't let you live in self-pity. He makes you get rid of excuses and embrace the fact that it is through your weakness that God makes you strong. This book is a fresh approach to how life should be lived. It is written in an interesting and encouraging way. You will see Bible characters like Moses, David, the apostle Paul and others in a new and interesting way.

Mark Batterson, New York Times best-selling author wrote, "You will love this book. Matt's unique way of storytelling will engage you from page one and leave you inspired to live up to your full potential." You may not love this book, but I am confident that you will like it. You will especially like it if you have ever felt like an underdog.

(I received this book free from BookSneeze, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers for an honest review.)


Friday, October 25, 2013

5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers
And Live An Extraordinary Life
By Joel Osteen

OVERVIEW: "You were not created to just get by with an average, unrewarding, or unfulfilling life. God created you to leave your mark on this generation. You have gifts and talents that you have not tapped into. There are new levels of your destiny still in front of you. But break out starts in your thinking. As you put these keys into action, making room for increase, expecting shifts of God's favor, praying bold prayers, and keeping the right perspective, then God will release floods of His goodness that will thrust you beyond barriers of the past into the extraordinary life you were designed to live." (Joel Osteen, excerpt from Chapter One)

AUTHOR: JOEL OSTEEN is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Listed by several sources as America's largest and fastest-growing congregation, Lakewood Church has approximately 45,000 adult attendees every week. Millions more watch Joel's messages as they are broadcast on national and international television networks. He resides in Houston with his wife, Victoria, and their children.

MY REVIEW: This is a review of Joel Osteen's book Break Out! and not a review of Joel Osteen. Let me repeat that: this is a review of Joel's book―not Joel, the preacher. If you want to read a review of Joel Osteen you will have no problem finding one. It seems that everybody has an opinion of him. Christians. Non-Christians. Friends. Enemies. People who hear him preach every week and those who have never heard him. Personally, I'm not interested in what you think of Joel.

So, what about the book? I like it. Do I agree with his interpretation of every Scripture referred to in the book? Probably not. But I didn't pause to do a serious study of every Scripture and there are many mentioned throughout the book. This may come as a surprise to many as I have heard that he rarely refers to Scripture. Not true. Joel gives 5 keys to take you beyond your barriers and help you live an extraordinary life. He does this in an interesting way. He tells good stories that keep you interested and wanting to know more. This is a gift that many dull preachers who preach the truth need to learn. What they are preaching is true but presented in such a way that nobody is listening. What a shame.

Osteen's uplifting message focuses on moving beyond barriers. If that is what you are looking to do in your life, this book will help.

(I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

 A Pilgrimage Through Alzheimer's
By Jeanne Murray Walker

OVERVIEW: Award-winning poet, Jeanne Murray Walker tells an extraordinarily wise, witty, and quietly wrenching tale of her mother's long passage into dementia. This powerful story explores parental love, profound grief, and the unexpected consolation of memory. While Walker does not flinch from the horrors of "the ugly twins aging and death" her eye for the apt image provides a widow into unexpected joy and humor even during the darkest days. (From the dust jacket)

AUTHOR: JEANNE MURRAY WALKER'S poems and essays have appeared in seven books as well as many periodicals, including Poetry, The Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Image, The Atlantic Monthly, and Best American Poetry. She has won many awards. She is Professor of English at the University of Delaware as well as a mentor in the Seattle Pacific University Low Residency MFA Program. In her spare time Jeanne gardens, cooks, and travels.

MY REVIEW: This book touched my heart. It is an interesting, page-turning memoir that is hard to put down. And yet I put it down several times before I could finish reading it. It's a great story. But a tiring one. I found myself feeling tired all over after reading a few chapters. Well then, why read it? Why put yourself through that? Because for me, I met this book with mixed emotions. Although it made me sad, it also made me feel informed and created in me an understanding of those who have to go through this experience. I want to understand. I want to empathize. I think most people do.

I agree with author, Alan Jacobs who said, "A powerful tale of loss but also renewal, pain but also love. A treasure." And also author Marilyn McEntyre who said, Leads us through those rocky passages to a place not only of acceptance but of gratitude." Author and Professor Eugene Peterson wrote, "A sturdy witness to unexpected meanings and beauties and even humor."

This book may not be for everyone. But if you have any interest in Alzheimer's this is a must read. I recommend this book especially for those studying Alzheimer's but also for those who love a well told human interest story. This is a good one.

(This book was given to me by Hachette Book Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Friday, October 18, 2013

Inspiration for Every Day of the Year
by WM. Paul Young

OVERVIEW: This 365-day devotional contains meaningful quotes from Cross Roads along with insightful and thought-provoking prayers written by the author, WM. Paul Young, who also wrote the phenomenal bestseller, The Shack. It is designed to inspire, encourage, and uplift you every day of the year. (From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: William P. Young was born a Canadian and along with three younger siblings was raised among a stone-age tribe by his missionary parents in the highlands of what was New Guinea (West Papua). The family returned to Canada where his father pastored a number of churches for various denominations. By the time he entered Canadian Bible College, Paul had attended a dozen schools. He competed his undergraduate degree in Religion at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon. He also attended seminary in Oregon.

MY REVIEW: I tried―I really did. But I just could not like this book. I'm sorry. I don't like to be negative about a book, and rarely am. But this time, being honest I cannot recommend that you purchase Cross Roads Reflections. I read some of the reflections over and over and still could not understand the point being made or receive the inspiration I thought I should. Maybe you can. That's why I'm going to recommend that you go the book store and read a few of the reflections for yourself.

I have been reviewing books for several years and most of the time, because I have carefully selected the books I review, I end up liking the books I read. I recommend most of the books I review. In fact, I get concerned that some may doubt my reviews because every book can't be a winner. But I give an honest review and don't always rate books the same. Some are excellent, and others are just good. Not great, but good.

So I say in closing this review, I wish I could recommend this book. But I can't. I wish I could tell you what it is about. But I can't. I feel like a book that is suppose to provide inspiration for every day should be easily understood by the common man or woman. I don't think a philosopher or theologian can grasp what this author is getting at. I read and recommended Young's book, The Shack. I didn't find it easy reading but I did understand and appreciate it. The bottom line of this review is: Look the book over and decide for yourself. Books are expensive and when you purchase one I want it to be one that you will be pleased with.

( I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.)


Wednesday, October 09, 2013


Common sense. Where did it go? When did it go? Why did it go? Did we ever have any?

Oh yes, we have had common sense―lots of it. I can remember when I thought that's about all the sense we did have. We certainly weren't educated. At least not my family, my relatives, my friends.

In my family of four brothers and two sisters I am the only one to finish high school. They all dropped out of school to go to work. They were thrilled to help me, the youngest graduate high school and go on to receive a Master's Degree from the University.

My brothers and sisters did not receive a formal education but an education in life and ended up with a lot of common sense and real values.

Today, it seems to me, we have a lot of education and little or no common sense. Of course, not everybody, but generally speaking.

It's my strong opinion that two of our biggest problems are liberal college professors and the liberal news media.

It seems to me that we are being led down a path of liberal, crazy thinking and have lost the ability to reason.

I see young people who think they have the world by the tail and it's really the other way around.

What's the answer? Can we reclaim this lost power of reasoning and restore common sense?

Well of course, ALL COMMON SENSE has not been lost!

And as long as there is still even a small amount―there is hope!

My hope is in God. He's got the whole world in his hand. I'm on his side. I stand with him.


I'll use what common sense I have to stand against anything and everything that doesn't make sense.

And then I will leave the outcome to HIM!


Thursday, October 03, 2013

A True Story Of Hope
By Susan Call

OVERVIEW: A Search For Purple Cows is the story of a wife and mother's amazing journey out of darkness into a life fully restored. In this moving and extraordinary memoir, Susan Call recounts what happens when love deteriorates into a cycle of abuse and betrayal. She chronicles how she first met her husband, a handsome, charming, generous man. They fell in love, married, and had two children. Their life seemed idyllic; they had a beautiful home and everything a family could desire. But inside the walls of that home, Susan was tormented by her husband's alcoholism, anger, and infidelity, which cast her into a world fraught with fear and despair. God found her in the midst of her pain and showed her, through the unlikely source of a Christian radio station, that hope and healing in God was possible even in the most unthinkable circumstances.

AUTHOR: Susan Call is a speaker and author who enjoys sharing her insights from life's valleys, offering hope and wisdom to her audiences. She holds a master of science in marriage and family therapy from Eastern Nazarene College and a bachelor of arts in computer science from Susquehanna University. Susan lives in New Hampshire with her family. For more information, please visit SusanCall.com.

MY REVIEW: When I saw the title, A Search For Purple CowsI smiled. When I read the sub-title, A True Story Of HopeI felt good. When I read the book―I had mixed emotions, beginning with sad. I am happy to tell you I did not end the book feeling sad, but I did have more than one emotion. They were still mixed.

This is a true story. I like to read but I especially like to read stories that are true. However, because there is so much sadness in this story I found myself wishing that much of it was not true. It has a happy ending and I like that. God turned Susan's darkness into light and her story became a story of hope. That is good. That is very good!

Everybody does not need to read this book but many do. If you are not one who needs it I am sure you know somebody who does. Susan writes with candor and grace. A Search For Purple Cows will leave you believing that God is present and able, ready to shine a light on your path.

Where does the title, A Search For Purple Cows come from? I will let you find that out for yourself.

I received this book from the B & B Medium Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013


The little church in Medicine Park, Oklahoma needed a preacher. The total membership was eleven. Ten women and one man. They met in a little cobblestone school building.

My home church was eighteen miles away with a membership around two hundred. Two hundred was considered a large congregation in the 1950's. They agreed to pay me the same small salary I was making for working at a grocery store. I was a junior in high school. I preached for the little church until I left to go to college at Abilene Christian in Abilene, Texas. The congregation had grown to thirty-five members.

In 1957 I graduated from college and moved to California to preach full-time.

Over the years I have watched the church grow in number and change. Today it is not uncommon for a church to meet in a huge indoor stadium type building and have thousands in attendance.

More and more churches are going away from anything that looks religious in order to appeal to those who are not comfortable with religion. The appearance of the building, the music, the clothes the preacher and the church members wear, the Starbucks coffee, the food court---all represent a modern, contemporary, secular look.

I don't object to this as a way to reach the un-churched in a society that is turning away from religion.

I do object if the Scriptures are not preached and not taken seriously. But that is not the theme of this post.

Do I think that every church needs to change to look like this? Absolutely not!

Every church doesn't need to be a mega-church. If a church is growing and ministering to the members and the community it is showing the heart of God. That is good. That's very good.

I object strongly to tearing out pews, the communion table, the baptistery and anything else just because it represents religion. Elderly members need  a church to live and die in that they have identified with all their lives.

Some things about the church need to change. But not everything!

Is there a place for new music and a new appearance for the church? Yes!

Is there a place for older, traditional things of the church? Yes!