WE CANNOT BE SILENT

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


WE CANNOT BE SILENT
Speaking truth to a culture redefining
sex, marriage, & the very meaning
of right & wrong
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

OVERVIEW:Twenty years ago, not one nation on earth had legal same-sex marriage. Now, access to same-sex marriage is increasingly seen as a basic human right. In a matter of less than a generation, western cultures have experienced a moral revolution. Dr. R. Albert Mohler examines how this transformation occurred, revealing the underlying cultural shifts behind this revolution: the acceptance of divorce culture, liberation of sex from reproduction, the prevalence of heterosexual cohabitation, the normalization of homosexuality, and the rise of the transgender movement. He then offers a deep look at how the Bible and Christian moral tradition provide a comprehensive understanding upon which Christians can build their personal lives, their marriages, church ministry, and cultural engagement. Dr. Mohler helps Christians in their understanding of the underlying issues of this significant cultural shift and how to face the challenge of believing faithfully, living faithfully, and engaging the culture faithfully in light of this massive change.

AUTHOR: R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology. Considered a leader among American evangelicals by Time and Christianity Today magazines, Dr. Mohler can be heard on The Briefing a daily podcast which analyzes news and events from a Christian Worldview. He also writes a popular commentary on moral, cultural, and theological issues at albertmohler.com. He and his family live in Louisville, Kentucky.
MY REVIEW:  Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC, said "This is one of the most useful books I've read in a long time...Student, freshman, campus worker, youth group leader, pastor, professor—read this book and study it with others." I feel the same way. Albert Mohler has written a book to equip readers to face and fight against sin and to do it with compassion and grace.
Albert Mohler is a brilliant scholar and writes with clarity about things that we cannot be silent about.  I especially liked chapter 4 on The Impossible Possibility of Same-Sex Marriage and chapter 7 about What Does the Bible Really Have to Say About Sex?. Chapter 10 answers 20 hard questions and is extremely important.
This is a book you will read, underline, study and then share with others.
(I received this book from Booksneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

ARAB AND JEW

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


ARAB AND JEW
Wounded Spirits
In A Promised Land
By David K. Shipler

OVERVIEW: In 1987, David Shipler won the Pulitzer Prize for this monumental examination of the relationship between Arabs and Jews and the origins of their prejudices. Now, this classic—revised and updated—is more significant than ever. The biases and corrosive interactions that have been building between the two peoples over the past seventy years have only sharpened amid nationalism, terrorism, and war. Focusing on the diverse cultures that exist side by side in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Shipler examine the process of indoctrination that begins in schools; he discusses the effects of socioeconomic differences, the clashes of Israeli and Palestinian historical narratives, religious conflicts between Islam and Judaism, views of the Holocaust, and much more. And he writes of the people; the Arab woman in love with a Jew, the retired Israeli military officer now disillusioned, the Palestinian militant devoted to violent means, the Israeli and Palestinian schoolchildren who reach across the divides in search of reconciliation. Their stories, and the hundreds of others, reflect not only the reality of "wounded spirits" but also the healing inside minds necessary for eventual coexistence in the promised land.

AUTHOR: David K. Shipler reported for The New York Times from 1966 to 1988 in New York, Saigon, Moscow, Jerusalem, and Washington. He is the author of seven books, including the bestsellers Russia and The Working Poor. He has taught at Dartmouth, Princeton, and American University. He writes online at The Shipler Report.

MY REVIEW: Newsday writes, "A rich, penetrating, and moving portrayal of Arab-Jewish hostility, told in human terms." I'm finding this to be true. I feel like I am receiving a major education. This is one of the few times in my years of reviewing books that I am posting my review before reading the entire book. I have read enough that I can recommend this comprehensive work to everyone interested in this important subject. However, I must say that you will have to be a serious student and one that wants to dig deep into the subject. You will also need to be a dedicated reader and one who will persevere. This is not an easy read. Not by any means.

The book has a lengthy forward and introduction and you will need to read both of them carefully before "digging in." Time and time again I found myself having to look up the meaning of words and terms I am unfamiliar with or found difficult to pronounce. I am slowly making my way through this book. When I have finished I should be granted some kind of academic degree. Even though this is not an easy read for me, I realize it will be for some. And many will agree with The New York Times that this is "The best and most comprehensive work there is in the English language on this subject."

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

GLORY DAYS

Friday, October 30, 2015


GLORY DAYS
Living Your Promised Land Life Now
By Max Lucado

OVERVIEW: Max Lucado says many people underestimate what happened to them upon conversion. Trusting in Christ is more than a removal of sin. It is a deposit of power. You are fully equipped! Glory Days teaches you: How to leave fear and worry behind as you fight from victory, not for victory. How to stop going through the motions and dare to believe your best days are ahead. How to overcome rejection by becoming deeply convinced that you are forever God's child. How to demolish unhealthy mindsets and learn to hear the right voice and make the right choice. How to deal with doubt by recognizing God's Word as the ultimate authority. And how to rebound from your mistakes and put your past in the past.

AUTHOR: More than 120 million readers have found inspiration and encouragement in the writings of Max Lucado. He lives with his wife, Denalyn, and their mischievous mutt, Andy, in San Antonio, Texas, where he serves the people of Oak Hills Church.

MY REVIEW: In my opinion, he's done it again. And I am sure that more than 120 million readers will agree with me. Max Lucado has written another splendid book, encouraging Christians. If not all 120 million agree I know that  New York times bestselling author and lead pastor for the National Community Church agrees with me. He said, "This is a message the Church needs and a reminder every believer can use."

In sixteen brief chapters Max helps Christians to see that they have everything they need to be everything God desires. I was encouraged by these words in the front of the book: "These days are Glory Days. My past is past, my future is bright, God's promises are true and his Word is sure. With God as my helper, I will be all he wants me to be, do all he wants me to do, and receive all he wants me to receive. These days are Glory Days."

I agree with bestselling author and founding pastor of Gateway Church that "This book, like all his books, will change your life."

(I received this book from BookSneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

THE HEAVEN PROMISE

Friday, October 23, 2015


THE HEAVEN PROMISE
Engaging the Bible's Truth
About Life to Come
By Scot McKnight

OVERVIEW: The Heaven Promise answers the most frequently asked questions regarding heaven, including: 1. What About Near-Death Experiences? 2. What About Rewards in Heaven? 3. Who Will Be in Heaven? 4. Is God Fair? 5. Will There Be Families in Heaven? 6. What About Children Who Die? 7. What About Cremation? 8. What About Purgatory? 9. Will There Be Pets in Heaven? 10. Why Believe in Heaven?

AUTHOR:  Scott McKnight is the author of more than fifty books including The Jesus Creed. He currently serves as a professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. A much sought after public thinker and speaker, he blogs regularly at Patheos under the banner of "Jesus Creed." He and his wife, Kris, enjoy life in the suburbs of Chicago.

My Review: The Heaven Promise is now one of my favorite books. Scot McKnight has for a long time been one of my favorite theologians. This doesn't mean that I agree with all that he writes or teaches but I do agree with most of it. That's one of the reasons I like this new book. McKnight is a New Testament scholar and he uses the Scriptures to answer questions about heaven, eternity and the afterlife.

Scott McKnight wants you to know that heaven isn't the construction of a fairy tale or some mythical narrative. It's very real; it's very good; and it's very much the fulfillment of God's promise to you.
This book may not answer all of your questions about heaven but it will answer many of them.

I agree with author John Ortberg. He said, "What a terrific book! Scot lays out the great questions about heaven — What will it be like? Who's going there?— and seeks to address them with biblically grounded wisdom."

"My hope," McKnight shares, "is that people will be hopeful about heaven."

After you read this book I believe you will be hopeful about heaven!

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

A WONDERFUL PLACE TO BE YOUNG

Friday, October 16, 2015



West Covina, California. A wonderful place to be young.

For eight years I lived in ElMonte, California, just a few miles from West Covina.

I preached for a church made up of mostly the elderly. Members that were old enough to be my parents or grand-parents.

AND THEN I moved to West Covina!

The South Hills Church of Christ members were mostly young. My age or younger. I had only been out of college eight years.

West Covina was a wonderful place to be young!

Life was lived on the edge. In the community and in the church.

It was one of the fastest growing communities in California and the nation.

The church membership was made up of school teachers, college professors, insurance salesmen, construction company owners, many other professions, workers and one FBI agent.

We worked hard during the week. Went to the beach for cookouts and football in the sand. Played softball followed by family style picnics on Saturdays.   And worshiped "hard" on Sunday.

Almost everything I said from the pulpit and especially in Bible study groups was challenged.

IT WAS FUN!

There is a new sitcom on television about young life in West Covina, California.

I can think of many ways to describe it. I think I will just go with SILLY.  Yes, that's it. Silly!

But maybe the life I was living in West Covina in the sixties was silly. Maybe.

All I really know is that it was a wonderful place to be young.


TRIM HEALTHY MAMA PLAN

Friday, October 09, 2015


TRIM HEALTHY MAMA PLAN
The Easy-Does-It Approach To 
Vibrant Health & A Slim Waistline
By Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison

OVERVIEW: Based on the authors' successful self-published book, this simplified, improved, practical plan shows readers a unique way to lose weight and become healthy by eliminating sugar while still eating hearty, delicious food. The biblically sound and highly effective eating approach centers on Satisfying meals (which include more fats and proteins) and Energizing meals (which include more carbs and proteins) as the keys to success. Scrumptious whole, unprocessed foods—including fats, blood-sugar friendly grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables—are eating in ways that boost metabolism yet still fit into anyone's hectic lifestyle. The plan is family friendly and effective for pregnant and nursing mothers, pre-or postmenopausal women, and those without weight or health issues—even men and growing children. (From the back of the book.)

AUTHORS: Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison are sisters who share a passion for healthy eating. They both have large, boisterous households and love to experiment in the kitchen with ways to best nourish their families and stay slim and healthy in the process. They were recording artists with a Christian music label and traveled extensively, but they relinquished their touring careers to embrace a life at home with children, dinners, dishes, and diapers. They have never looked back. Learn more at TrimHealthyMama.com

MY REVIEW: I have never liked counting calories. With the Trim Healthy Mama Plan you don't have to. Counting calories is out. All the food groups are in. Although I haven't had time to give this plan a test, it doesn't seem difficult or painstaking.

The authors tout their plan as a breakthrough lifestyle program to help people of all ages and stages get healthy, slim down, and keep off the weight once and for all. Sounds good. If fact, it sounds great! Will it work. I think so. As I said, I haven't had time to test it yet but I am about to. I will let you know.

The book is written in an easy, free flowing style. Some will consider it a little too "folksy". Others will love the warm, down home way of communicating. I liked the fact I could understand what they were saying. The Trim Healthy Mama Plan is divided into four parts. The first part deals with the basics and you really need to start with that to better understand the plan. Part two helps you get started. Part three gives you menus, eating tips and what to expect. Part four closes with trim, healthy and beyond and discusses things like exercise, skin and balance.

This is a good book! Some people will like to read it even if they never try the plan. They just want the knowledge. Others will read it. Try it. And love it. I really enjoyed reading it. I learned a lot. I will give it "the old college try" and let you know what I think later.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

CHURCHILL'S TRIAL

Thursday, October 08, 2015


CHURCHILL'S TRIAL

Winston Churchill And The Salvation
Of Free Government
By Larry P. Arnn

OVERVIEW: Churchill's Trial is organized around the three great challenges to liberty that Churchill faced: Nazism, Soviet communism, and his own nation's slide toward socialism. Churchill knew that stable free government, long enduring, is rare, and hangs upon the balance of many factors ever at risk. Combining meticulous scholarship with an engrossing narrative arc, this book holds timely lessons for today. Arnn writes, "Churchill's trial is also our trial. We have a better chance to meet it because we had in him a true statesman."

AUTHOR: Larry P. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College, where he also serves as a professor of politics and history. He received his BA at Arkansas State university and his MA and PhD in government at Claremont Graduate school. He is the author of Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education and The Founders' Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It.

MY REVIEW: I agree with Lewis E. Lehrman, cofounder fo the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute at Gettysburg College and distinguished director of the Abraham Lincoln Association: "Churchill's Trial, a masterpiece of political philosophy and practical statesmanship, is the one book on Winston Churchill that every undergraduate, every graduate student, every professional historian, and every member of the literate general public should read on this greatest statesman of the twentieth century."

This book is beautifully written by a scholar who has spent a lifetime studying the life of Winston Churchill. "Larry P. Arnn explores the greatest challenges faced by Churchill over the course of his extraordinary career, both in war and peace—and always in the context of Churchill's abiding dedication to constitutionalism." The book is divided into three parts that cover the life of Winston Churchill: War, empire and peace. After reading the preface and introduction I had learned many important things—things that I did not know. I was excited about what I was about to read.

This is an excellent book and one that I highly recommend.

(I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD ALMIGHTY!

Friday, September 25, 2015



When I assemble with Christians for worship I long for and expect to feel something. That something I felt when I first gave my life to Christ. I don't know what to call it. Maybe passion. Maybe a great joy that comes from feeling bathed in the grace of God.

I want to feel Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! Not holy moly.

I don't want to struggle with slapping my hands together in time with the worship leader.

I want to be moved with passion to sing praises to God.

To feel tears of joy in the corner of my eyes as I remember the grace of God.

I want to encourage and be encouraged by others like we are reminded to do in Hebrews 10.

Isaiah 6 says, In a great chorus they sang, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! The whole earth is filled with his glory!"

Yes, I know it was mighty seraphim, each with six wings who sang like that. And I know it was because they saw the Lord sitting on a throne. And I know I'm not a mighty seraphim---not even close. And I know I couldn't stand to look upon the Lord. I know. I know.

But worship leaders have moved me many times by leading with passion and with deep reverence  and respect for the Holy things of God.

Secular sounding music and jazzed up tunes will never move me to HOLY-----just HOLY MOLY, what's happening?






GRIT TO GREAT

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


GRIT TO GREAT
How Perseverance, Passion,
And Pluck Take You From
Ordinary To Extraordinary 
By Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval

OVERVIEW: In this splendid book Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval talk about what basketball legend Michael Jordan, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and billionaire Michael Bloomberg have in common. Each of these extraordinary individuals was utterly ordinary growing up—no one would have ever predicted their future success. They weren't considered brilliant, talented, or destined for greatness. They failed early and often. But each one had the steadfast determination, stamina, and resilience that propelled them to excel in their field. In fact, new research shows that the secret to success isn't some rarefied "It" factor—it's the 'grit" factor, And each and every one of us can possess it. Grit to Great shows you the real secret to success—and it is something every one of us can embrace and develop, whether you're nine or ninety.

AUTHORS: LINDA KAPLAN THALER is an Advertising Hall of Fame luminary and helped create many of the industry's most iconic campaigns, including Kodak Moments and the hilarious Aflac Duck. Linda was the co-founder and CEO of the Kaplan Thaler Group. She is currently chairman of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, and the coauthor of several national bestsellers, including The Power of Nice  and The Power of Small. She lives with her family in New York City. ROBIN KOVAL is the CEO and president of the Truth Initiative, the national public health foundation dedicated to achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco. Previously a leader in the world of advertising and marketing, Robin is co-founder of the Kaplan Thaler Group, creators of the Aflac Duck and many other well-known campaigns, and was CEO of Publicis Kaplan Thaler. She is the coauthor of the bestsellers The Power of Nice and The Poser of Small. Robin lives with her husband in Washington, DC.

MY REVIEW: Yesterday when I got home from the gym this excellent book, Grit To Great was waiting for me at our front gate. I started reading it that same afternoon and read until I had to put it down. I wasn't able to get back to it until this afternoon, but when I did I read until I finished it. It's good. Very good!

This is not a big book. It only has eight short chapters but they are power packed. The writers keep your interest with the dozens of illustrations and stories about how people have gone from ordinary to extraordinary. These people did this with perseverance, passion, and pluck. Thaler and Koval want you to know that you can too.

I loved the stories of success. And yes, there are many definitions of success. And although I don't admire every person held up as being an example of success or the cause for which they had passion and grit, I do see them ALL as splendid examples of  how grit can move a person to great.

I like what author, James Patterson said, "You don't need to be brilliant or incredibly talented to become hugely successful. But what you do need is to read this book. Grit To Great teaches us all how to develop our grit quotient so almost any goal is possible."

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.) 

7 WOMEN AND THE SECRET OF THEIR GREATNESS

Monday, September 21, 2015


7 WOMEN
AND THE SECRET OF THEIR GREATNESS
By Eric Metaxas

OVERVIEW: What makes a great woman great? Seven Women explores the question by telling the captivating stories of seven women who changed the course of history.  Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa—each of these world-changing figures followed the call placed on her life, doing so with remarkable feminine dignity. Writing in his trademark conversational and engaging style, Eric Metaxas reveals how the extraordinary women profiled here achieved their greatness, inspiring readers to lives guided by a call beyond themselves.

AUTHOR: Eric Metaxas is the New York Times #1 bestselling author of Miracles, Bonhoeffer, Seven Men, Amazing Grace, and more than thirty other books. He is the host of the Eric Metaxas Show, a nationally syndicated radio program heard in more than 120 cities around the country. ABC News has called Eric a "witty ambassador for faith." He was the keynote speaker at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, and he speaks to tens of thousands around the United States and internationally each year. Eric is a senior fellow and lecturer-at-large at the King's College in New York City, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

MY REVIEW: I agree with author, Karen Swallow Prior who said, "This might be the best book you read this year." Author and speaker, Anne Graham Lotz says that this book offers us a plumb line by which we can measure our faith, our courage to forsake personal comfort, boldness to take great risks, sacrificial compassion for others, and convictions to live—and die—by, just to name a few.

After hearing Eric Metaxas speak on television and at our church and having read three of his books: Bonhoeffer, Miracles and Seven Men, I knew I wanted to read this book—Seven Women. I was not disappointed. Metaxas has the ability to engage readers in the lives of these women and make you want to be a better person. When my daughter heard that I was reading this book she said, "I want to read it when you are finished. I hope many women will read this book and be inspired by it.

When I got my hands on this book I read the introduction and then turned immediately to woman number seven—Mother Teresa. I don't usually begin at the back of the book but I did this time. And yes, I already knew much about Mother Teresa but I wanted to know more. After reading that splendid story I then turned back to the front of the book and read about Joan of Arc. I knew almost nothing about this young woman. I was impressed! Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa. These are women who will inspire you. No, you will not be "on the same page" with all of these women. That would be impossible. But we can learn, be encouraged and gain something from all of them. This is a book that I recommend to women, young and old but also to men. Read it. You will be glad you did.

(I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher (Book Sneeze) in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

WAITING FOR MORNING

Friday, September 11, 2015


WAITING FOR MORNING

By Karen Kingsbury

OVERVIEW: "Kingsbury not only entertains but goes a step further and confronts readers with situations that are all too common, even for Christians. At the same time it will remind believers of God's mercy and challenge them to pray for America. The book...reveals God's awesome love and His amazing ability to turn moments of weakness into times of strengthening." (Christian retailing, Spotlight Review.)

AUTHOR: KAREN KINGSBURY is a USA Today and New York times best-selling author, with nearly twenty million books in print. Dubbed the "Queen of Christian Fiction" by Time magazine, Karen has written more than forty Life-Changing Fiction titles. Her emotionally gripping novels include the popular Baxter Family Drama, which encompasses the Redemption, Firstborn, and Sunrise series, as well as stand-alone novels such as Like Dandelion Dust, When Joy Came to Stay, and This Side of Heaven, Karen and her husband, Don, live in Tennessee and are parents to six children, including three adopted from Haiti.

MY REVIEW: Francine Rivers says it much better than I can. She said, "This book tears at the heart and shows, in no uncertain terms, why forgiving an enemy is the call of every Christian." I agree with Gary Smalley, best-selling author who said of Karen Kingsbury, "What a talent! I love her work."

Once you start reading, you will not want to put this book down. A drunk driver. A deadly accident. A dream destroyed. The book tells the story of Hannah Ryan a woman who realizes she has everything. Then a car pulls into Hannah's driveway, bringing two police officers...and devastating news that shatters her life forever.  A drunk driver causes her to have unspeakable feelings of sorrow and rage. He took her loved ones away. In her fury, Hannah shuts the Lord out of her life. She's determined not to forgive the drunk driver or God. You will be drawn into her life and her story and you will be "forced" to continue reading to find out if Hannah can rediscover her faith before bitterness destroys her.

I recommend this book not only because it is a fascinating read but because of the great lessons it contains.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

AMERICA the STRONG—Conservative Ideas to Spark the Next Generation

Thursday, August 27, 2015


AMERICA the STRONG
Conservative Ideas to Spark the Next Generation
By William J. Bennett and John T. E. Cribb

OVERVIEW: America the Strong shows the next generation five fundamental principles that have made the United States a great nation and why they are worth preserving. It answers more than one hundred questions, from "Do conservatives hate the government?" to "What's wrong with having an open border?" to "Why can't rich people pay all the taxes?"

AUTHORS: William J. Bennett is the former US Secretary of Education and current host of the seventh-ranked nationally syndicated radio program Morning in America. Bill is the author of twenty-four books, including #1 New York Times bestsellers The Book of Virtues and The Death of Outrage.
John T.E. Cribb is an author whose previous work includes The American Patriot's Almanac (co-authored with Bill Bennett) and The Educated Child (co-authored with Bill Bennett and Checker Finn). He has collaborated with Bill Bennett on several books, including The Book of Virtues.

MY REVIEW: America the Strong is one of the best books I have read this year. It is a book that needs to be read by every person interested in conservatives ideals. In my opinion, it also needs to be read by every American. But of course, we know that is not going to happen. Therefore I am just hoping to get this good book into the hands of as many as possible.

William J. Bennet and John T.E. Cribb deal with the distortion that "conservative" means extremist and intolerant. They explain what conservatism really means, using five fundamental principles summarized by the word FLINT:
*Free enterprise,
*Limited government,
*Individual liberty,
*National defense,
*Traditional values
This book explains why conservative ideas are good for our country and supplies clear rationales for taking a conservative stance. It answers more than a hundred questions about conservative positions on issues ranging from immigration to illegal drugs.

(I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

THE PART THAT MATTERS

Wednesday, August 19, 2015



I was asked today to name my favorite Max Lucado book.

Easy.

NO WONDER THEY CALL HIM THE SAVIOR was my first Max Lucado book and my favorite.

It was 1986. Stockton, California. I was sitting in my study at the church building going through the mail. I opened a package that contained Max's book and a brief note. The book had been sent to me as a gift from Multnomah Press. I was surprised. But pleased.

I had never heard of Max Lucado. But I soon learned that he was also a member of the Church of Christ. I was interested.

I opened to the first chapter, THE PART THAT MATTERS.

The words I read had a profound effect on me and changed my life.

Max began by telling the story of a young man named Ian who grew up in the church but became disenchanted and quit. He asked Max, "What really matters? What counts?"

Max asks, "What would you have said to Ian? Would you have spoken on the evil of the world or maybe the eminence of heaven? Would you have quoted John 3:16 or Acts 2:38 or maybe read l Corinthians 13? What really matters?"

"Is this all there is? Sunday attendance. Pretty songs. Faithful tithings. Golden crosses. Three-piece suits. Big choirs. Leather Bibles. It is nice and all, but...where is the heart of it?"

Years later Max was still thinking about the question and he said, "Yet now, years later, I know what I would share with him."

Think about these words from Paul in l Corinthians, chapter 15. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.                         "First importance" he says. 
Read on:
That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

"There it is. Almost too simple. Jesus was killed, buried, and resurrected. Surprised? The part that matters is the cross. No more and no less. The cross."


THE FIRST FAMILY DETAIL

Monday, July 27, 2015


THE FIRST FAMILY DETAIL
By Ronald Kessler

OVERVIEW: The First Family Detail reveals: *Vice President Joe Biden regularly orders the Secret Service to keep his military aide with the nuclear football a mile behind his motorcade, potentially leaving the country unable to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack. *Secret Service agents discovered that former president Bill Clinton has a blond mistress—code named Energizer by the agents—who lives near the Clintons' home in Chappaqua, New York *The Secret Service covered up; the fact that President Ronald Reagan's White House staff overruled the agency to let unscreened spectators get close to Reagan as he left the Washington Hilton, allowing John W. Hinckley Jr. to shoot the president.* Because Hillary Clinton is so nasty to agents, being assigned to her protective detail is considered a form of punishment and the worst assignment in the Secret Service.
(From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: RONALD KESSLER is the New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of the FBI, In the President's Secret Service, and The CIA at War. A former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post investigative reporter, Kessler has won eighteen journalism awards.

MY REVIEW: We all love stories. We all love storytellers. Ronald Kessler is a skilled storyteller. The stories he tells in this book are not fiction. This is dead-serious nonfiction. This book is crammed with headline-making revelations. It's about what goes on in the private lives of presidents, presidential candidates and their wives and children. This is a book about what these people are really like.

Secret Service agents have a front-row seat where they look on the private lives of those who lead our country. In this book Secret Service agents reveal the hidden lives of the presidents. If you are among the many interested in these behind the scene stories, you will love this book. If not, you will find Kessler's book a waster of time. Only you can make the decision.

One of the most interesting chapters, for me, was chapter eleven: White House Collar. This chapter tells the interesting story about how many people try to get into the White House to see the President and how the Secret Service protects him from these people and all those who might do him harm. The book has twenty-six chapters or stories and an epilogue. The stories are brief and the book is small. It's an easy, fun read. And very informative.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

THE LITTLE CHURCH BY THE CREEK

Friday, July 10, 2015



Medicine Park, Oklahoma is a beautiful little community about twenty miles from my home town of Lawton.

I started preaching there while I was still in High School.

The church met in a little cobblestone school building down by the creek.

Every Sunday I would teach a Bible Class. And then step up onto the school stage and lead the singing, read Scripture and pray. After that I would preach for about twenty-five minutes.

When I first started preaching there we had eleven members. The church grew slowly. But it did grow. As soon as a person confessed their faith in Christ we baptized them. In the warm part of the year we went to one of the beautiful lakes close by. In the winter months we drove into one of the Lawton church buildings and used their baptistery.

When it was time for me to leave for Abilene Christian College the church had grown to thirty-five members.

This little group of Christians hated to see me go but they were happy for me that I could continue my education and prepare to better preach the gospel.

On my last Sunday we had a little going away party. It was a pot-luck. That's what churches did back then. As we said our last good-byes they all gathered around to hug me and then a dear, old, gentleman pressed an envelope into my hand and walked away with tears in his eyes.

The envelope had money in it. Not much. But probably a sacrifice for most.

I went to Abilene Christian. I graduated with a major in Bible and a minor in speech.

What touched me the most when I opened that envelope was not the bills (although I needed them the most) but the change. Somebody---maybe a child or a widow, didn't have much but wanted to give. That was fifty-nine years ago but I get misty eyed every time I think about it---and that is often.

I loved that little church. I love the Lord's church every where. Always have. Always will. 



RICHARD JOHN NEUHAUS—A LIFE IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

Monday, July 06, 2015


RICHARD JOHN NEUHAUS
A Life In The Public Square
By Randy Boyagoda

OVERVIEW: Best known as the editor in chief of First Things magazine, a fixture in the national media, and a personal counselor to Pope John Paul II and President George W. Bush, Richard John Neuhaus was a brilliant, hard-charging hero for religious and political conservatives, and a fearsome, well-connected nemesis of religious and secular liberals. But his remarkable array of involvements in American public life weren't always conservative, or Catholic for that matter. For all the headline-grabbing and powerful influence, however, the heart of this captivating biography is the story of a man motivated in all things by a simple love of God—from his humble beginnings during the Depression in rural Canada to his days as a young Lutheran pastor in the inner cities of Brooklyn and then Manhattan to his years as, arguably, the most influential religious voice in America.

AUTHOR: Randy Boyagoda is a professor of American Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto. His most recent novel, Beggar's Feast, was selected as a New York times Book Review Editor's Choice, was nominated for the 2013 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and hs been published to critical acclaim around the world. He written for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, First Things, the New Statesman, and Harper's.

MY REVIEW: Richard John Neuhaus lived a fascinating and active life. This is a captivating biography. Neuhaus was one of the leading religious figures of the 20th century. He passionately defended and encouraged bringing religion into the public square. My personal beliefs and doctrine is vastly different than his, both when he was a Lutheran and then as a Catholic. But I strongly agree with his feelings about bringing religion into everyday life in general and especially politics.

I recommend this book to all those who love to read biographies. This is a good one! You will be interested in a man who was labeled sometimes as liberal and others times as conservative. "Neuhaus was truly a sign of contradiction in our times." Author Randy Boyagoda has written a biography that is balanced, interesting and relevant. He has done careful research and although he writes in a very detailed way, he is able to hold your interest.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

IDOLATRY OF PLACE

Monday, June 08, 2015



"Let me go, let me go, let me go lover, let me go, let me go, let me go!" goes the song.

Turn me loose, let me go needs to be said to many people and things. It's not always lovers that have us in a strong grip.

John Ortberg writes about the possibility of us being in the grip of idolatry and then mentions the idolatry of place. ( His book: All The Places To Go--How Will You Know?)

In a recent Face Book post I wrote about how much I love Arizona and how I believe we should love where we are. But I also see John's point that we can be held captive by the idolatry of place. 

We should never be so in love with place that we cannot be moved---not even by God.

When God opens a door we need to go through it. 

Change is hard, And it's not always easy to know if the voice we hear is God's voice. But we need to listen.

In Genesis God told Abraham to go. Abraham was told to leave home. That could not have been easy. But he went. God "opened a door" and Abraham went though it. From our perspective we can see it was the right thing to do.

We need to walk with God in such a way that when he speaks we recognize His Voice. 

Let's not let any place become an idol that we cannot break the grip of.

Abraham left his home and as a result became a blessing to many.

Called people are Blessed to Bless!

UN OFF—END—ABLE

Thursday, June 04, 2015


UN OFF—END—ABLE
How Just One Change Can
Make All Of Life Better
By Brant Hansen

OVERVIEW: Isn't taking offense normal? Aren't we supposed to get offended? Isn't anger at sin justifiable? If God gets mad, why can't we? Brant Hansen asks a radical, freeing question: What if Christians were the most unoffendable people on the planet? And he offers a life-changing idea: "righteous anger" is a myth, and giving up our "right" to be offended can be one of the most healthy, simplifying, relaxing, refreshing, stress-relieving, encouraging things we can do. In a winsome, humorous, and conversational style, Hansen helps you release religious burdens and experience the joy of gratitude, perhaps for the first time, every single day of your life.

AUTHOR: BRANT HANSEN is a radio host who has won multiple National Personality of the Year awards. He also works with CURE International, a worldwide network of hospitals that brings life-changing medical care and the good news of God's love to children with treatable conditions. Brant has been a game inventor and a youth pastor, and is still a very poor (his words) accordion player, although he ardently defends his right to play it. Brant currently lives in Northern California with his wife, Carolyn; his son, Justice; and his daughter, Julia. He can be found at branthansen.com and @branthansen on Twitter.

MY REVIEW: Even before I got to the table of contents I was liking this book. In the middle of a blank page I read these words: "To all those who want grace for themselves but struggle to extend it to others. Wait: that's everybody." I turned the page and found this powerful statement by Dallas Willard: "Anger is the most fundamental problem in human life." Wow! This is a good book.

The title of the first chapter states that being unoffendable is a ridiculous idea. Before reading Hansens's book that was exactly what I thought. After reading this splendid book, I changed my mind. However, I have to confess—I still struggle with the thought.

Hansen writes with a humorous, grace filled style. His book is easy to read but what he teaches is tough to accept as truth. But truth it is and by the time you get to the last page you will know it and accept it. This is a book that needed to be written AND READ.

( I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

SPINSTER—MAKING A LIFE OF ONE'S OWN

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

SPINSTER
Making A Life Of One's Own
By Kate Bolick

OVERVIEW: SPINSTER is a slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remain unmarried. Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is both an unreservedly inquisitive memoir and a broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the potential within ourselves to live authentically. Bolick offers us a way back into our own lives—a chance to see those splendid years when we were young and unencumbered, or middle-aged and finally left to our own devices, for what they really are: unbounded and ours to savor.

AUTHOR: KATE BOLICK is a contributing editor to The Atlantic. She was previously the executive editor of Domino magazine. She lives in New York.

MY REVIEW: As a minister for forty-seven years I did a lot of counseling. I counseled with singles, married, divorced, young, old, rich, poor, sexually confused, depressed—you name it. They were all trying to learn how to live authentically. Almost all of them were trying desperately to "measure up"—to please others. I wish I had read Kate Bolick's book back in my counseling days. Her book is not only helpful for singles, it encourages us all to examine the way we live. We all should consider the question Mary Oliver asks and Bolick ends her book with: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

I didn't enjoy reading about Kate Bolick's sex life but maybe singles will feel they need this information. If so, they will not be disappointed as she is not timid in revealing this part of her life and the five woman she introduces as those who blazed a trail before her. I became a little bored with all the details she went into when telling us how these women lived.

Susan Cain is a bestselling author and one that I admire. However, I think she missed the mark when she said, "Kate Bolick's Spinster will take your breath away." I don't think so! However, I do think you will appreciate this book and Bolick's insistence on an examined life. Singles especially will be interested in the statement Bolick begins her book with: "WHOM TO MARRY, AND WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN—THESE TWO QUESTIONS DEFINE EVERY WOMAN'S EXISTENCE."
And if they do not already know it, she helps them to understand times have changed. You no longer have that question hanging over your head. You do not have to marry at all to live an authentic life.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

HOW TO ENJOY READING YOUR BIBLE

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


HOW TO ENJOY READING YOUR BIBLE
By Keith Ferrin

OVERVIEW: Do you feel like you SHOULD read the Bible more? This book will help you WANT to read it. Keith Ferrin has been talking to churches for years about enjoying God's Word. Here he shares the most helpful ideas and habits you can start using today. You will find ten proven tips that are equally practical whether you are a longtime Bible student or simply exploring what this life-changing book is all about. Aimed at deepening your relationship with God, these simple suggestions will help you focus more easily as your read, remember Scripture better, and most importantly, enjoy the Bible and its Author more than you ever dreamed possible. (From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: KEITH FERRIN is an author, speaker, and storyteller who strives to help people realize that the living Word of God is a reality—not a phrase. His one-man dramatic, word-for-word presentations of whole books of the Bible have been seen by thousands. Keith lives with his wife and three children just outside of Seattle, Washington.

MY REVIEW: Before I read Keith's book I would have said, "Yes, I enjoy reading the Bible!" Every Sunday for forty-seven years I went to the pulpit with a Bible in my hand. I preached from it. I taught Sunday morning and Wednesday night Bible classes. I preached from the Bible in evangelistic meetings. I conducted many small group home Bible studies. I love the Scriptures. I have given my life to teaching from them. Enjoy the Bible? Of course I do! However now, after reading this splendid book, I have to think that I haven't always enjoyed reading the Bible in the way Keith writes about it.

This book opened my eyes to many things. I now approach the Bible in a new way and I am enjoying it MORE. I believe every Christian I know can profit from reading this book. I hope many will read it and share what they learn with others. If you think you enjoy reading the Bible now get this book, you will enjoy it even more. And that will be a blessing.

(I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

TRULY FREE

Friday, May 15, 2015


TRULY FREE
Breaking the Snares That So Easily Entangle
By Robert Morris

OVERVIEW: Truly Free will show you the warning signs that your life may be opened to evil and how you can overcome the enemy and find freedom. Using clear, biblically based teaching, Robert Morris invites you to join him on  a journey to true freedom. You'll gain insight into your personal struggles as he openly shares how God helped him find freedom from chronic illness, lust, temptation, and insecurity. If you've ever wondered, Why do I keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again? Why can't I change? Take heart—there is a way out! With relevant scriptures, prayers, and questions for contemplation or group discussion, this book explains how you can find lasting freedom and live truly free.

AUTHOR: Robert Morris is the founding senior pastor of Gateway Church, a multicampus, evangelistic, Spirit-empowered church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. He is featured on the weekly television program The Blessed Life, broadcast to approximately one hundred million homes in the United States and more than two hundred countries around the world. Robert is the bestselling author of eleven books.

MY REVIEW: The best thing about this book is that it dwells on the goodness and power and truth of Jesus Christ. It isn't a book that dwells on evil, the bizarre, cruel and unusual. There are other books that cover that. This book is about the freedom that is in Christ that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:1.

I agree with Joyce Meyer, Bible teacher and bestselling author, who said: "Truly Free is a great reminder that there is a spiritual battle raging all around us, but we have the victory in Christ. This book can give you hope no matter what struggles you are facing."

I don't agree with everything Robert Morris says in this book. Of course not! I read and review dozens of books every year and although I generally agree with most of what I read, I sometimes find myself in disagreement. The things I disagree with in Robert Morris's book are things that I am in serious study about. I haven't stopped reading and thinking about these things. I am reading, praying and asking for God's guidance.

This is an important book and one that every serious student of the Bible needs to consider.

(I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

A SERENDIPITOUS TREASURE

Monday, May 04, 2015



Sorting through boxes of books trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of I made a wonderful discovery. I discovered I am the owner of a 1937 copy of Dale Carnegie's FIVE MINUTE BIOGRAPHIES. 

I am amazed at my surprise. Why? Because when it comes to books I have a great memory. I do not have a filing system for my many books and yet I can locate any book quickly. And it is a rare thing for me to forget when and where I acquired a book. Especially one I value as much as this one.

One of the first books I read as a teenager was Dale Carnegie's HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. My brother gave me a copy of the book and asked me to read it. I wasn't interested in reading it but I'm glad I did. I still have the book and have read it many times.

I like to read biographies and I especially like the ones in this book because they are brief. And I like the way Carnegie writes. He is a great story teller and his book is filled with great stories about interesting people. I love the titles he gives to each one.
Titles like: The Missionary Who Got On The Wrong Train--And Became A Famous Magician; Two-cent Newspapers Bought Him Castles In Spain, Cuckoo Clocks, And Egyptian Mummies;He Was Ashamed Of Having Written Two Of The World's Greatest Novels; He Was Shot In The Breast But He Kept Right On With His Speech;The "Tough Guy" Who Went Through High School In Three Months And Wrote Fifty-One Books In Eighteen Years.

I was three years old when this splendid books was first published.
The price $1.00. To me it's a treasure. 




WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT

Friday, May 01, 2015


WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT
How To Find Peace While Chasing
Your Dreams
By Pete Wilson

OVERVIEW: Pete Wilson provides a plan for living that will lead you to a place of peace that you've only dreamed about and a life filled with meaning, significance, and satisfaction. This is a book to be used as a field guide to ruthlessly trusting God's plan—even in the face of difficulty and uncertainty. Each chapter discusses some aspect of embracing God's call for your life, based on Scripture and the authors observations and experiences.

AUTHOR: Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a committed church community that he and his wife, Brandi, planted in 2002. Cross Point has grown to reach more than six thousand people each week-end through its seven campuses located around the Nashville area, and online. As one of the fastest-growing churches in America, Pete's ministry—an outreach focused on helping people become devoted to Christ, irrevocably committed to each other, and relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside of God's family with the gospel—has made him a frequent speaker at national and international church conferences. Pete gained national attention in 2010 when Thomas Nelson published his best-selling book, Plan B, a title that has been printed in five languages and launched Putting Plan B into Action, a 6-week DVD curriculum that serves as a study companion to the book, Empty Promises, Pete's second book, focuses on the human desire to find purpose and hope in things that are not God. Pete earned his bachelor's degree in communications from Kentucky Western University and attended seminary at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

MY REVIEW: Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author wrote, "If you've ever been scared and confused about what to do next, this is the book for you." I agree! I also agree with Christine Caine, founder of The A21 Campaign who said, "What Keeps You Up at Night? will help you not only discover the adventure you were born to live, but to actually live it."

Pete Wilson is an excellent communicator. In this splendid book he uses many illustrations to put his point across and tells wonderful stories that inspire. This is a book filled with wisdom. But it is mostly just good, common sense. You won't have to read and re-read to get the meaning and you won't have look up words in a dictionary. You will find yourself underling and marking passages that you want to remember and refer to again quickly. This is a book you will want to pass on to someone else you care about and you may buy extra copies to give away.

(I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

THE CONSERVATARIAN MANIFESTO


THE CONSERVATARIAN MANIFESTO
Libertarians, Conservatives, And The Fight
For The Right's Future
By Charles C. W. Cooke

OVERVIEW: There is an underserved group of conservatives for whom fiscal responsibility, constitutional obedience, and controlled government spending remain crucial tenets, but issues such as gay marriage and drug control are approached with a libertarian bent. In this book Charles C. W. Cooke engages with the data and the philosophy behind this trend, applauding conservatarianism as a force that can help. Republicans mend the many ills that have plagued their party in recent years and sustain the momentum gained in the 2014 midterms. Conservatarians are vexed by Republicans' failure to cut the size and scope of Washington, D.C. but they are critical of some libertarians for their unacceptable positions on abortion, national defense, and immigration. They praise conservatives' efforts to protect Second Amendment rights—efforts that have recently been wildly successful—but they see the War on Drugs as unmitigated disaster that goes against everything conservatives ought to value. All movements run the risk of stagnation and of losing touch with the principles and values that made them successful in the first place. In The Conservatarian Manifesto, Charles Cooke shows the way back to a better and more honest conservatism that champions limited government, reality-based policy, and favor for the smallest minority of all, the individual.

AUTHOR: Charles C.W. Cooke is a writer at National Review and a graduate of the University of Oxford, at which he studied modern history and politics. His work has focused especially on Anglo-american history, British liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment and American exceptionalism. Cooke is the cohost of the Mad Dogs & Englishmen podcast and has broadcast for HBO (Real Time with Bill Maher), BBC, MSNBC, Fox News, The Blaze, CNBC, CTV, ABC, Sun News and CBS. In addition to National Review his writing has also been published by the New York Times, National Interest the Washington Times, and the New York Post.

MY REVIEW: The Conservatarian Manifesto needs to be read by all those interested in the current political era. Charles C. W. Cooke is a brilliant writer and he makes a strong case for the right to hold unpopular views and make unpopular choices. These views and choices may be wrong but he writes about the right of the individual to be wrong. In this splendid book, Charles C. W. Cooke makes it clear that conservatarianism is now a part of what is happening politically and that it needs to be examined and reasoned about. He does that brilliantly!

I recommend The Conservatarian Manifesto to all but especially to those with a right-leaning worldview. This is one of the most interesting and educational books I have read in a long time.
Cook is an excellent writer and a brilliant scholar. He makes his points as clearly as possible but still because of the topic, I found myself reading and re-reading. However, I don't see that as a bad thing. I think it helped me center in and to better understand what he was saying. If you are a person that is interested in what is going on in politics today and if you are willing to accept truth wherever you find it, you will love this book.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

MORE THAN JUST EXERCISE

Thursday, April 30, 2015


The gym is a good place for exercise. It is also a good place to make friends. Murray and Charlotte Schreiber are two of the friends my wife and I have at our gym. Charlotte is a lovely lady full of vim and vigor who loves life and makes friends easily. She is eighty-nine. Murray is a retired doctor with a brilliant mind and a beautiful voice. He is ninety-two. These two lovely people are Jewish and they love God and others. While visiting in their home yesterday Dr. Schreiber read me a devotional that he had just written.

SEE YOURSELF AS GOD SEES YOU

One who is made in the image of God and dearly loved.

One who is endowed with many gifts and talents.

One who deserves celebration for having achieved a good, valid self image.

To add to your well being always remember to recite daily prayers of gratitude for all the wondrous good elements in your life.


NO MORE EXCUSES DIET

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


NO MORE EXCUSES DIET
3 Days to Bust Any Excuse
3 Weeks to Easy New Eating Habits
3 Months to Total Transformation
Your real-life plan for your best body ever
By Maria Kang

OVERVIEW: When it comes to controlling your weight, a balanced diet is key. Unlike many restrictive programs that cut out an entire food group or demand huge sacrifices, Maria offers a realistic and long-term eating plan of 30 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, 30 percent fats, and 10 percent that can be customized depending on your goals. Maria has designed a completely customizable workout guide to incorporate exercise into even the busiest life. The No More Excuses Diet is not about making you feel guilty for how you look, or ashamed of the choices you've made; it is about getting you to a place where you feel in control of your life, love your body, and prioritize your health. Packed with lots of encouragement and a clear plan of action, The No More Excuses Diet will empower you to bust through the excuses that hold you back and start living a life you love.

AUTHOR: Maria King is a health advocate who believes that health begins with choice. She is the founder of Fitness Without Borders, as well as the No Excuse Mom movement, an organization of thousands of women around the country making a commitment to their health one day at a time. Maria lives in California with her husband and their three children.

MY REVIEW: This is not a book just for women or moms. This is a book for all of us. I am a male diabetic needing to lose weight, and get my blood sugar under control. I am now doing that. This book has helped. When I started reading the book I was already exercising, eating better, losing weight and getting my blood sugar under control, but I improved even more after following Maria's advice. I wish I had known about her book sooner.

This is a book with a real-life plan for a better body. Even if you do not need to lose weight but you do want to be healthier, then this is a book you need to read. Maria gives you exercises that you can do at home, and shows you how to develop new eating habits that will help change your life. IF you are one of the MANY that need to make some changes for your health's sake---then you will want to get this book.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY


SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY
Loving, Leaving, And Finding The Church
By Rachel Held Evans

OVERVIEW: For a generation that has largely said, "count me out," church represents a complicated relationship of both longing and apathy. There's a history there—a past full of confusion and hurt, but a past that often is impossible to abandon. In Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans exposes her own thorny relationship with the church, articulating the concerns, frustrations, and hopes of many of her peers. Through a series of stories told around the church's sacraments—baptism, confession, and communion, among others—Evans offers the beginnings of a road map back to church and the resurrection that awaits when we are willing to give up and begin again.
(From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: Rachel Held Evans is an award-winning writer whose articles have appeared in local and national publications. She lives in Dayton, Tennessee, with her husband, Dan. Follow her on her blog at rachelheldevans.com, on twitter at @RachelheldEvans, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/RachelHeldEvans.page.

MY REVIEW: In my opinion, this is a must read for every preacher—young and old, every Bible professor and church leader. I say this because I feel that Rachel Held Evans is describing what is going on in the minds of many who are concerned with the things about God, religion and every day living. All church leaders need to be informed. However, I'm not sure this is a book for everybody.
Many, mainly the ultra-conservative, may not be able to "handle" what Rachel is feeling and saying.
Oh, we all need to hear her message but if we can't meditate on it and reason through it without getting upset and "sick" then it's best we leave it to others to interpret it for us.

I have a graduate degree in Bible and was a minister for forty-seven years. I am conservative in my thinking. I had a difficult time in reading this book and determining how to review it. I understand what Rachel is saying and I am in agreement with much of it. But her experiences—what she is feeling and going through is so much different from anything I have personally experienced with the church that I can't identify with it. Again, I understand her deep emotion are real. Real for her but not for me. For example, Rachel saw a sign that read: "Vote Yes On One" and "Marriage=1 Man + 1 Woman" and it so upset her that she left the church and now years later is still bothered by it. I have strong feeling about the message from that sign but my feelings are entirely different than hers. And that's OK. At least, it's OK with me. What you will find in this book are the sincere, deep, emotional, thoughts of a great writer.

(I received this book free from the publisher for my honest review.)

FROM STRESS TO SUCCESS

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


BEYOND WILLPOWER
FROM STRESS TO SUCCESS IN 40 DAYS
The Secret Principle to Achieving Success in Life,
Love, and Happiness
By Alexander Loyd, Ph.D., N.D.

OVERVIEW: Rooted in science, ancient wisdom, and proven therapeutic techniques to remove personal obstacles that sabotage us, Beyond Willpower offers a revolutionary forty-day holistic program based on more than twenty-five years of clinical experience. With this program you will identify and clarify what fundamentally defines success for you. Then you'll receive the three simple tools you need to internally shift from fear to love physically (using the Energy Medicine tool), mentally (using the Reprogramming Statements tool), and spiritually (using the Heart Screen tool). No matter how you define success – as a wealth, career satisfaction, healing of health issues, or resolution of relationship problems—Beyond Willpower will help you achieve it once and for all, quickly and for the long term. (From inside the front dust cover).

AUTHOR: Alexander Loyd holds doctorates in psychology and naturopathic medicine and has been a psychological counselor for more than twenty-five years. his private practice has become one of the largest of its kind in the world, with clients in all fifty states and more than 150 countries. He is the author of the international bestseller The Healing Code.

MY REVIEW: I want to begin my review with what William A. Tiller, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Stanford University said about Beyond Willpower: "Valuable information for everyone to access. This book is in perfect harmony with ageless wisdom: In all ways, to thine own self be true. Seek your answers to life's questions from within, rather than from the world without." I also want to agree with the words of Janet Atwoood, New York Times bestselling author of The Passion Test. She said, "This is a paradigm shift breakthrough, turns most conventional wisdom about how to achieve success on its head, and explains why so many things that have sounded good have failed to produce results over the last fifty years."

That being said, I need to clarify something about my own views of this book. Although, I agree with almost everything Dr. Loyd has to say, I have a much stronger view of the part God plays in healing and bringing peace to our lives than Dr. Loyd does—or at least more than he states in the book. He speaks of God, love and grace, which is good. I see God, love and grace powerfully packed into a bold, capital letter GOD. Maybe he does too. I'm not sure. I just want my Christian friends to realize that although I accept truth wherever I find it that as a retired minister I am not leaving my message from the Bible about God, love and grace and finding it now in psychology. The Bible is good. Psychology is good. The Bible is where I go first.

I recommend this book as a tool to help those who are burdened with stress and fear and don't know which way to turn.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

DON'T PULL THE PLUG ON A CHURCH THAT' ISN'T DYING

Monday, March 16, 2015


It is not always a bad thing when a church is plateaued or declining. This is happening to the typical church today.

The typical church will have a ten percent attrition rate annually, regardless of its health. People move out of the area for various reasons and some die. So simply maintaining where you are is a sign of growth.

Another reason for a flat growth may be a decision that was made that didn't please everybody and the disgruntled moved away. But this isn't always bad. Sometimes the best thing that can happen is that certain people will find a church suited to their beliefs.

Then there are some churches that are limited in their growth potential because of where they are located. This doesn't mean that a church is not needed there.

Another reason may be the church is just in a season of natural ebb and flow. Over the years I have watched this happen many times. The pattern is to have a season of growth followed by a season of consolidation. It happens.

Every church doesn't have to be a mega church to be a true church of Christ.  Looking back I'm thankful that my children grew up in churches where they could love and be loved by both the young and those not so young. These were churches where everybody knew your name.

I believe there is a place for the mega church that is reaching out to those who were raised totally outside of organized religion. But we don't need to "kill off" a church that isn't really dying just to replace it with something we think will appeal more to the secular minded.

You want to be a part of a booming, growing, mega-church? Good. Go with God. Go join one!
Go "plant" one that you will lead and be loyal to.

But don't destroy a church of Christ because YOU deem it dead. Let the church be faithful to those things that led to its growth to begin with. Don't worry. Take heart. If you are in a church that has plateaued or declining it's not necessarily a bad thing.


FAIRNESS IS OVERATED

Thursday, March 05, 2015


FAIRNESS IS OVERRATED
And 51 Other Leadership Principles 
To Revolutionize Your Workplace
By Tim Stevens

OVERVIEW: Fairness Is Overrated is organized around four categories of leadership thought that are crucial for every leader to learn: Part One: Be A Leader Worth Following. Part Two: Find The Right People. Part Three: Build a Healthy Culture. Part Four: Lead Confidently Through A Crisis. This book is an essential read for any leader at any level, whether you are leading a few or a few thousand.

AUTHOR: Tim Stevens is a team leader with the Vanderbloemen Search Group, an executive search firm that helps churches and ministries find great leaders. Previously he was the executive pastor at Granger Community Church in Indiana. During his twenty years there, he helped grow the church to more than 5,000 gathering weekly in three locations and saw a worldwide impact, which included a community center in downtown South Bend, Indiana, and more than 1,800 new churches in southern India.

MY REVIEW: I agree with Thom Rainer, author of I Am a Church Member and Autopsy of a Deceased Church, who said, "Business leaders, church leaders, all leaders: get this book and devour it immediately!"

Stevens distills his lifetime of service and learning into practical, unconventional wisdom that is needed by any leader. This is a book of short, powerful chapters that offer deep wisdom. It's about what matters in the heart of a leader. The principles in this book are written in an easy to understand way. I have read many books on leadership but never one this practical and useful.

I picked up the book thinking I would just read one or two of the short chapters. I found myself looking at the title of chapter after chapter and unable to put it down. Just when I thought I had read the best chapter of the fifty-two, I would read another one and think, maybe this is the best one. They all are needed and helpful. Maybe chapter fifty-two was most helpful to me. In that chapter Stevens lists what he calls the five stages of failure: Justified Reasoning. Questioning. Blaming. Redefining and Leading. I recommend you get your own copy of the book and decide for yourself. I'm sure you will find it as hard as I did to pick only one.

(I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

THE MATHENY MANIFESTO

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


THE MATHENY MANIFESTO
A Young Manager's Old-School Views 
On Success In Sports And Life
By Mike Matheny with Jerry B. Jenkins

OVERVIEW: The Matheny Manifesto is based on a frankly worded letter Mike Matheny wrote to the parents of a Little League team he coached. The letter was a cry for change that became an Internet sensation and eventually a "manifesto." In the book he builds on the letter by first diagnosing the problem at the heart of youth sports— hint: it starts with parents and coaches—and then by offering a hopeful path forward. Along the way, he uses stories from his small-town childhood as well as his career as a player, coach, and manger to explore eight keys to success: leadership, confidence, teamwork, faith, class, character, toughness, and humility.

AUTHORS: Mike Matheny played thirteen years as a catcher for four Major League teams, won four Gold Gloves, and holds the MLB record for most consecutive games witihout an error; 2015 will mark his fourth year as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. Matheny led the Cardinals to the postseason in each of his first three campaigns, winning the National League pennant in 2015. He and his wife, Kristin, are the parents of five and live in St. Louis.  Jerry B. Jenkins is the author of twenty New York Times bestsellers, including the Left Behind series. His writing has appeared in time, Reader's Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and dozens of Christian periodicals. He has collaborated on as-told-to autobiographies by Hank Aaron, Orel Hershiser, Walter Payton, Nolan Ryan, Mike Singletary, and Billy Graham.

MY REVIEW: This is a "must-read" book. It presents what is called an "old school" view and if that is what it is, I am old school all the way. The principals Matheny talks about in this book and lives out in his life, are sadly missing from today's society. They are desperately needed!

This book will benefit coaches, parents, young players—anybody seeking success. It is packed with winning insights and practical advice. Mike Matheny lists eight keys to success. They all are important. As a preacher, the one I liked best was FAITH. And I liked it that in his acknowledgments he wrote: "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! ( 2 Corinthians 9:15).

We are just getting into the new year (2015) but this is the best book I have read so far this year and I have already read several. It is easy to read, fun to read. And powerful!

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

GRIT IN YOUR CRAW

Friday, February 20, 2015


GRIT IN YOUR CRAW
The 8 Strengths You Need
To Succeed In Business And In life
By Robert Luckadoo

OVERVIEW: This book will leave you with a tear in your eye, a big southern smile in your heart, and a recharged desire to be your best and find your true purpose in life. You will be enlightened and entertained as author Robert Luckadoo's life stories tug at your heartstrings and inspire you to dig deep inside yourself to find the eight strengths you need to succeed in your personal and professional life.

AUTHOR: Robert Luckadoo has a knack for success. Whether it's in the world of NASCAR racing, collegiate fast-pitch softball or financial services, he's always found a way to win. It's no wonder that audiences find him to be such an inspiring speaker. A geophysics major with a master's in business management, Robert started his first company—a geological consulting firm—in 1989, and since then he's become something of a startup expert, starting six more businesses and growing them to maturity before selling them for profit as going concerns. Currently, he's a financial professional with Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company.

MY REVIEW: I agree with Dick Vitale, ESPN Sports Analyst who said, "Grit in Your Craw will help develop the strengths you'll need to attack the many problems you'll encounter on the road to success." This is a good book. A very good book! I recommend it to you whether you're an athlete, in financial services, a real estate or insurance salesperson or another performance-based position. This book will inspire you to do your best in everything you do.

Robert Luckadoo wanders off into theology on page three of the book and I think that is a mistake. He says that winning the lottery and a child that dies with cancer is a part of God's plan. I don't think so! I do believe that it is God's circumstantial will and that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord, but I do not believe the Scriptures teach that God plans for you to win the lottery or for a child to die with cancer. However, this does not take away the great value of the book. It just happens to be a point of disagreement that I, as a Christian minister, have with one thing that Robert believes. He certainly may be right in his view and I may be wrong.

This is a book I wish I had read when I was a teenager. These eight strengths will benefit anybody who will carefully consider them and apply them to their life. You may want to consider buying a few copies to give as gifts to your friends.

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