Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Be Contagious!

In their book, Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery, authors David Watson and Paul Watson have written an excellent book. 

This book is not geared for the professional only.  It is for all people who are invested in making a difference for Christ.  This book will help the Christ follower to be better equipped to help people know and become more passionate followers of Christ.  This book is not just another theoretical book, it is filled with many practical applications as well.  That makes the book worth the price.  I like the fact that the applications are not just locally grown, but come through their ministries relationships throughout the world, as well in the United States. 

The book is easy to read, the chapters are short and can easily be read as part of a group process.  There are also a number of scripture references to help the reader.

The book is broken into two parts ~

PART 1: THE MIND-SET OF A DISCIPLE-MAKER
- Disciple-Makers Embrace Lessons Taught by Failure
- Disciple-Makers Deculturalize, Not Contextualize, the Gospel
- Disciple-Makers Plant the Gospel Rather than Reproduce Their Religion
- Disciple-Makers Recognize the Limitations of Branded Christianity
- Disciple-Makers Adapt the Strategy for Making Disciples to the Structure of the Community
- Disciple-Makers Limit the Negative Influence of their Culture and Religious Experience
- Disciple-Makers Understand the Importance of Obedience
- Disciple-Makers Make Disciples, Not Converts
- Disciple-Makers Practice the Priesthood of the Believer

PART 2: PRACTICES OF A DISCIPLE-MAKER
- Think Strategically and Tactically About Disciple-Making
- Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples
- Prayer
- Engage Lost People
- Finding a Person of Peace
- Discovery Groups
- Establishing Churches
- Leadership
- Mentoring

The Watson's lead us in the first section to understand the theory, then in part two, put everything into practice.  Overall, this was an excellent book.

I received this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for an impartial review.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Prepping for the SAT

The Perfect Score Project: One Mother's Journey to Uncover the Secrets of the SAT, by Debbie Stier was an excellent book to read at just the right time.  We have a son who will be taking the SAT in a couple of months, so this book came at a good time.  At times, it was difficult navigating through some of what Debbie was talking about.  

I’m not sure I would want to take the SAT again, it’s been too many years.  Let alone to take it 7 times.  But by the 7th time, she should have had a system down anyways.  So, I’m not sure about some of the scoring she received. 

It seems that her son who was underachieving was able to get mom to do a lot of leg work to help him do well on his test scores.  Debbie works to help the reader sift through the different way to prepare for the test.  She dove into so many different ways to prepare for the SAT, from using the prep tests to homemade flash cards to an expensive tutor.  She explained which books she used and were helpful and which not to use.

In the end, Debbie’s greatest discovery was the coming together and closer relationship within her family.  That’s crucial!  

I received this book from Bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an impartial review.

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Bible in 66 Verses!

I wondered how Stan Guthrie was going to pull this off?  How can you choose one verse from each of the 66 books of the Bible?  In his newest book, God's Story in 66 Verses: Understanding the Entire Bible by Focusing on Just One Verse in Each Book, Guthrie tackles a big challenge.

Guthrie chooses one passage from each book of the Bible, but does not just focus on that one verse, instead he moves on from that point and writes about how that verse fits into the bigger picture of the Bible.  

The book is not difficult to understand.  Each chapter builds upon the previous chapters.  I would recommend reading this book more as a devotional, than trying to plow through in a couple of days.  Each chapter is no more than four pages, which makes this a nice 2 month devotional.

I received this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for an impartial review.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Bible Reading! Are you?!

This week I will be talking about Bible Study in our worship.  It's week 13 of Believe.  A couple of thoughts about Bible Reading. 

  1.  It can be intimidating! 
  2.  Don't let that stop you!
  3.  Read it regularly!
  4.  Don't give yourself excuses!
  5.  Ask questions!
  6.  Find a version of the Bible which works for  you!
  7.   Be excited about what you are learning from God!
  8.  Read the Bible as if you were reading a novel!  Read with emotion!
  9.  Take notes or write in the margin of the Bible.  Lightening bolts won't strike you because you write in your Bible!
  10.  Talk about the Bible with friends who are willing to listen to what you are learning!
  11.  Don't be arrogant about what you know or think you know and someone else doesn't know!
  12.  Choose how you want to read the Bible . . . For deep understanding (go slowly) or for an overall sense of the book (reading quickly).
  13.  If you get stuck, it's okay, we all do at times!  Again ask questions!
Your Bible is calling out to you . . . will you read it, or allow it to remain filled with dust?

More to come later . . . 

Community Happens at the Table

I have always appreciated reading Leonard Sweet books.  He is not only a deep thinker, but he is able to move me to examine my life as well.  If you read his books too quickly, you miss the deeper meanings and your benefit is not as great as it could have been.  This is true in his book, From Tablet to Table.  It is a powerful book, rich in meaning.

The back cover drew me in, as Sweet wrote,
"The story of God is full of reference to food.  From the Garden of Eden to the Last Supper to the wedding feast of the Lamb, God sets a table before us and invites us to join Him there.  Contrast this rich and filling good news with the thin and meager fare to which we've become accustomed to in our relationships, our churches or even in our families."

As I read this book, Sweet reminded of how many times as a church we have fallen short because we didn't value the table as a place of community.  We assume if we are busy, we are connected, but connection often escapes us.  Sweet outlines the fact that the table occurs in our homes, in the church and in the world.  He offers suggestions as to how we can help meet the needs of those around us, as well as satisfy our own longings.

Sweet encourages us to open up our homes and our lives to the table.  This is the place where real community occurs.  He lists numerous scriptures which highlight the many times Jesus sat and ate with others and the importance of this event. 

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an unbiased review.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Stealing from God

When I saw the title of the book, I definitely wanted to read Frank Turek’s book, Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God To Make Their Case.  This was a fascinating book, and one which helps me see arguments against God, by Atheists from another point of view.  Turek believes atheists need to use God in order to prove there is no God, but end up proving there is a God.  It sounds crazy, but Turek had many good points.

He uses the acronym CRIMES to highlight the content of each chapter ~

C - Causality
R - Reason
I - Information & Intentionality
M - Morality
E - Evil
S - Science
The four-point case for mere Christianity
Conclusion: God Will Not Force you into Heaven Against Your Will

I greatly appreciated the fact that Turek laid out his non-negotiable beliefs.  He stated, the Source and Sustainer of all things is

Self Existing
Infinite
Simple
Immaterial
Spaceless
Timeless
Omnipotent
Omniscient
Omnipresent
Immutable
Holy
Personal

He briefly expanded on each point, but that helped set the stage for what he was about to share.

Turek reviewed debates which have occurred between God believers and non-believers.  At times, it was easy to get lost in all of the back and forth of the debates.  Overall, it was a little heady at times, but I expected that.  It was an interesting read and I would recommend this book for people who wanted to know more about defending their faith when speaking to atheists.

I received this book free from the Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Big Talk form Small Talk

Sometimes we move through life at such break-neck speed that we never take time to reflect on the conversations and day to day events which surround our lives.  In her book,  Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most, Amy Julia Becker recounts stories from her day to day life with her children.  The stories are fun to read, but what makes this book different and a more powerful book is the fact that Becker has reflected on these experiences and has incorporated some spiritual truths into this book.

I really appreciated this quote from Becker, "For a long time, I though my children were a distraction from the work God was doing in my life and in the world around me. I am starting to realize they are the work God is doing in my life."

How true is that for many parents.  While we don’t actively think that way, that is often the thought behind our thinking.  Until we realize our kids are a blessing from God and if we are willing this helps us grow as the people God calls us to be.  She easily shares the spiritual truths she has learned.  She does not act like she knows it all, instead she helps the reader to see the way she processes the different experiences she has. 

Small Talk had more spiritual depth and thoughtfulness than I expected.  Her thoughts and reflections are not just for all people who struggle with how to relate to God in their lives.

I received this book from booklook bloggers in exchange for an impartial review.

Super Fun and Educational

Draw-A-Saurus by James Silvani is such a fun and exciting book.  It's not one of those typical "how to" draw books.  There is humor and fun on every page.  There's an educational dynamic as well as the fun element.  For any youngster, or even adult who wants to learn how to draw dinosaurs, this book is definitely for you. 

Each chapter goes into detail on how to draw one specific type of dinosaur (there are too many to list, but all the famous ones are there for you to imagine and draw).   Silvani also shows and explains a variety of other dinosaurs that share similar characteristics.  Draw-A-Saurus includes instructions for drawing dinosaurs who lived in every area, land, water and air.

Silvani also gives tips and tricks on how to draw dinosaurs from various angles, this helps make the book more than just a basic "how to" draw book.  It's really somewhat advanced, yet simple enough for anyone to start drawing.  He adds feathers and scales and gills to help make that creature look real.  He shows how to adapt your creature so that it would look like a cartoon, or how to make a baby dinosaur, even adding the environment to make your picture look realistic.

He adds specific details about the dinosaurs which makes the book educational and fun at the same time.  This is a great resource for drawing and I know young kids and maybe even adults will love this book. 


The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Powerful and Moving Story

This was such a powerful story!  In his book, My Best Friends Funeral: A Memoir, Roger Thompson has a deeply moving story about his friendship with his best friend Tim.  He writes about the time they spent together and the meaning of their relationship.  The were best friends as they grew up, eventually going into business together.

The book begins with Roger preparing to speak at Tim’s funeral.  He reflects on the life lessons he learned from his friend.  This book is filled with stories, funny, sad and most of all, stories which help us to reflect upon our lives and relationships. 

This book will move you.  Be prepared. 

I received this book from booklookbloggers reading program.  In exchange for this book, I am providing an honest and unbiased review.

The Patmos Deception

I have not read books from Davis Bunn in the past, and hope to read more of his books in the future.  I’m not sure what genre, The Patmos Deception should really be considered.  It’s not a romantic thriller.  There’s not much romance, which is fine by me.  It’s not a super mystery / suspense novel.  It’s probably more of a mild thriller book.  This does not take away from the story of the book.

As I read other reviews, I believe there is not a great deal of build up throughout the book.  At times it moves slowly.  But unlike other books, there is a level of continual movement in the book which leads you to keep on reading.  I do believe Bunn is very good at helping me to feel part of the environment on the book.  He leads you to experience with the characters are experiencing.  The book kept me interested and ended in an unexpected manner than what I was expecting which makes for a fun read and discussion afterwards with others who have read the book.

Overall, I was pleased with the book, slow at times, but it never lost momentum.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.