Monday, December 31, 2012

Live Second!!

Live Second:365 Ways to Make Jesus First is an excellent devotional if you are wanting to be challenged in your relationship with Jesus; or if you are wanting to ask questions as you seek to understand who God is calling you to be.

The book is broken down into 12 sections, (one per month) containing either 4 or 5 weeks, totaling 52 weeks in the year.  Within each section are 7 days worth of one page devotions.  Each section begins with someone's story, found on video.  All of the videos are easily accessible through a QR Reader which makes it simple for smartphone users.  If you don't have a QR Reader, the website link to the video is provided.

Each day then has a scripture reading pertaining to certain aspects of the Christian life.  The book will challenge Christian and non-Christian.  Anyone can start reading this book and find it helpful and useful.  You can start anytime since there are no dates in the book.

Everyday the reader is asked questions, such as,
How will you live more second today?
How will you share what you have learned?


This is not a study which simply gives you all of the answers, this is more about self discovery and group discovery.

We are working through I am Second at our church on Sunday evenings and have found the videos and website to be fantastic.  I highly recommend this book as you start the new year to help you draw closer to Christ.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed above are completely my own.

I review for BookSneeze®

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

GRACE - Defintely More than we Deserve

What a wonderful book by Lucado.  Grace: More than we deserve / Greater than we Imagine is an easy to read book which packs a powerful punch.

We use the word grace to describe so much of life, we throw the word around like we really know what it means, but Lucado poignantly helps us gain a greater understanding of God's gift of grace.

He explains ~ "Grace is everything Jesus. Grace lives because he does, works because he works, and matters because he matters. He placed a term limit on sin and danced a victory jig in a graveyard. To be saved by grace is to be saved by him - not by an idea, doctrine, creed, or church membership, but by Jesus himself, who will sweep into heaven anyone who so much as gives him the nod.

Not in response to a finger snap, religious chant, or a secret handshake. Grace won't be stage-managed. I have no tips on how to get grace. Truth is, we don't get grace. But it sure can get us. Grace hugged the stink out of the prodigal and scared the hate out of Paul and pledges to do the same in us
."

Lucado weaves stories about real people, from real life, along with stories from the Bible to help us realize our need for grace.  I used this book as a cornerstone for an 8 week series of sermons about grace.  This is an excellent book, which I highly recommend.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I review for BookSneeze®

The Gospel of Yes

The basic premise of "The Gospel of Yes" is that we were meant to live a fruitful and abundant life.  Too many non-Christians know Christians according to what they don't believe in.  In other words, they hear about what we are against, not what we are for.

Author, Mike Glenn, seeks to help Christians look at the YES of God, as opposed to His divine NO.

Glenn states, "We are called to live for Christ, not against the world.  Yes, following Christ often will place us in conflict with the world. But such conflict is not something we originate; it is a natural consequence of following Jesus. The biblical directive for all Christians is to follow Christ, not just to oppose the world."  As we seek to demonstrate our faith to the world, at the same time, we should be seeking to hear the cosmic YES of God, not waiting for the cosmic NO and anger / wrath of God.

At times the book seemed to be more of a self help book of "how to" which can lead us to seek more self-fulfillment than to serve God.  At times I felt Glenn stretched some of the points he tried to make with scripture. 

Overall, I believe this is a good book to read, a great reminder for those who might be stuck on the thou shalt nots, as opposed to the thou shalts!

I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher but the opinions are mine, nor was a positive review required.


You can watch a video of author, Mike Glenn here

A promotional video of Mike Glenn talking about the book can be found here


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gold Toe Socks

Aren't these great!!  Gold Toe socks!  If you need to make a fashion statement, these are the socks!  They are really comfortable, fit great and look even better!

They are available at most department stores.  There is an especially large section, with good sales at Kohl's.

These would make a great Christmas present!!

Try them, I know you'll love them!



I'm a Bzzagent!

Friday, September 28, 2012

WIsdom Meets Passion

I read this book, Wisdom Meets Passion, by Dan Miller and his son, Jared Angaza with a lot of interest and hope for what it would teach me.  I believe we are in a great cultural shift which has been occurring, but one in which we really seek to avoid acknowledging and dealing with, at all cost.  The subtitle is ~ “When Generations Collide and Collaborate.” 

The part that drew me in was the phrase ‘. . . collaborate.’  What does it mean for two generations, who have very different views of the world to work together in order to make a difference in the world?  I was hoping to get a clearer idea from this reading.

I enjoyed and appreciated the stories, the dramatic out of the box faith of Jared, his willingness to risk everything for what he believed God was calling him and his family to do.  His father, Dan’s, willingness to let his son go.  You see, Jared didn’t want the entrapments of our world, ‘houses, cars, material possessions, etc.’ so he and his wife adopted a son and moved to Africa, which is his passion.

I like what the back cover says – Yesterday the world ran on formulas -- on all things black and white with tried-and-true wisdom. Today things run on dreams and are covered in gray and fueled by passion. But as it turns out, formulas don't work well without feeling, and dreams don't come true without dedication. Enter Wisdom Meets Passion, offering proof that when generations – and their beliefs – come together, something incredible can happen.

I believe that to be very true.  Too often we give up on what we are passionate about and grab what pays the bills.  That’s more of what I got from this book.  It’s an interesting read to see the thought process of how father and son reconcile their different approaches to life.

I received this book from Booksneeze.com for the purpose of giving an unbiased review.

I review for BookSneeze®

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Breaking Free from Fear

As a Pastor who leads Bible Studies, I am always on the lookout for new material and thoughts about different ways to engage those who attend.  With that in mind, I thought this would be a great opportunity to read through Kay Arthur’s study, Breaking Free from Fear.  This study comes from her Precept Ministries.  It is designed to be a 40 minute Bible study, accomplished with no homework.  I’m not sure I like that idea, but I understand her purpose is to help the busy person to engage in Bible study as opposed to saying I don’t have the time, so I can’t do it.

Kay’s style is to have the reader mark their book with different symbols, such as putting circles, squiggly lines, triangles, crosses, underlines, etc. around certain words or phrases.  That seems to take away from my flow of reading.  But that can always be adapted to the readers style and preferences. 

Overall, as I read through this book on helping each person break free from fear, I found it helpful as she used a great deal of scripture to help the reader gain a better understanding of Jesus’ place in their life.  This is an open ended book, with thoughtful questions, related to the passages, as she hopes to move the reader beyond being a slave to fear.  Her conclusion is our way to resolve our fears is to have a healthy fear of the Lord.  She begins each chapter with a short thought and ends with a Wrap Up section.

I believe this would be an excellent resource to help people move through life with a healthy fear of the Lord and reduced fear of the world.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are my own.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Unstoppable

There's a new book coming out by Nick Vujicic which should be great.  Watch this 1 minute video to learn more . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii4JNtDPSaA&feature=player_embedded

If you would like to read an excerpt from the first chapter, click on this link . . .

http://www.scribd.com/doc/98561664/Unstoppable-by-Nick-Vujicic-Chapter-1-Excerpt

 I hope this blesses you!

Pastor Michael

Monday, August 06, 2012

Max Lucado on Life


I was looking forward to reading this book by Max Lucado.   Max On Life: Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions was an easy to read book, which frankly was frustrating.  Don’t get me wrong, he has a lot of great things to say, and his viewpoints about life are great, but I wanted something which would take me a little deeper theologically.

Basically, Max is operating like a “Dear Abby” character, answering questions which people have sent in over time.  He breaks the chapters down as follows ~

1) Hope: God, Grace, and "Why am I here?”
2) Hurt: Conflicts, Calamities, and "Why me?"
3) Help: Prayer, Scripture, and "Why church?"
4) Him/Her: Sex, Romance, and "Any chance of a second chance?"
5) Home: Diapers, Disagreements, and "Any hope for prodigals?"
6) Haves/Have-Nots: Work, Money, and "Where's the lifeline?"
7) Hereafter: Cemeteries, Heaven, Hell, and "Who goes where?"

He covers most every basic topic we have in life.  I had no problem agreeing with Max’s basic theology.  Again, my issue was wanting something deeper, which would challenge me a little more.  For the casual reader who is not wanting deep theology, this is a great book to read to help answer life’s questions and gain perspective from a man I believe is one of the greatest Christian writers of our time.

Disclosure:
I received this book free from the publisher through the [BookSneeze®.com] I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the [Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."]

I review for BookSneeze®

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Relationships Matter


This book is a reprint of a 2004 book, entitled "Out of the Question . . . Into the Mystery," and is subtitled, "How we got the point but Missed the Person."  This is a very powerful book by Sweet and is very challenging.  The premise for Sweet is that we've lost our first love.  Jesus should be our first love, we should have a dynamic faith, yet we have allowed belief to trump faith
 
Of course we need both, but Sweet believes we've bought into rules over faith.  We talk about belief, but not about the relationship which should come from our belief in Jesus.  We don't exhibit the transformed life Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Sweet believes we are missing the point and relationships should be the cornerstone of our faith.  Without relationship, relationship with Jesus; then relationship with one another, we cannot demonstrate love.  

Some quotes from Sweet include ~ 
  • "We are more in love with our principles of peace, than we are with the Prince of Peace."
  • "We don't follow Jesus because we understand Him or because we know the truth about Him.  We follow Jesus because He is the Truth, and He leads us into truth through our relationship with Him."
  • Faith in God is a relationship involving all of who you are and all that is around you.  Faith is a lived encounter, a relationship of truth with the divine."
There are great study questions at the end of the book.  As this would be great for a book study, albeit a very deep one.  Overall, this is another excellent book from Leonard Sweet.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Awakening!

This book is a 21 day plan to help us move into a meaningful and lasting relationship with God.  The plan is to engage in a planned fast, so that we can draw closer to God.  At the end of the first section of the book, Weems outlines the 21 day plan where we are to engage in prayer and seek to listen to God’s voice.

We need this because we live in a world where there is so much going on that we struggle relating to God and even experiencing His presence.  There is so much noise, twitter, facebook, television, video games, music, and we don't take time out until we drop into bed exhausted . . . and then we sleep, if we can.  We really don't really take time to listen, let alone talk to God.

Weems wants us to understand that we have an assignment from God.  That’s our mission, but are we really fulfilling and following what God wants for us?  It becomes a control issue, and Weems wants us to let go of our control and give God control over our lives.  The only way to really accomplish this is to listen to God.

This process is accomplished by doing the least preferred Spiritual Discipline — fasting.  His point is that we should not be legalistic, but look for what is good, seeing God’s goodness and grace as we worship Him.

I found the book inspiring, easy to read and hope I can attempt to put this into motion sometime in the near future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Is Chick-Fil-A BAD?!

I read an article, click her for the article from the Baptist Press, about how some college campuses are against Chick-Fil-A because of their Christian beliefs and support of certain organizations.

Even some colleges have made a decision not to pursue a relationship with this restaurant because of their concern that a minority, like at Northeastern University, where 1.5% of the students protested the coming of a Chick-Fil-A, so the school stopped negotiations for this restaurant.

If you don't believe the beligerence the world has towards Christians, you are sorely mistaken. This article, even though it's about one simple restaurant is indicative. Yet, if Christians were to do the same to a Planned Parenthood facility or supported restaurant, the Christians would be bashed as intolerant.

So, there you go!! The sad thing, and this is really bad, we will sit around and take it, then wonder what happened to our safe world!

Is Chick-Fil-A bad? No way!! Good food, good causes, but that's not what some are saying!

Here's another link to the article from the Baptist Press.

Friday, March 02, 2012

MEN! For MEN!

We Men

Warning: This post is for the men only. Ladies, feel free to read it, but there’s some potty talk. Fair warning.

cowboy suit

Tough As Nails

We men are supposed to be tough. We don’t cry. If we do cry, we get a mark on our man-card. Four marks and we will lose our card until we can prove we’ve watched 40 hours of Chuck Norris films, used one roll of duct tape for stuff around the house, and logged at least 75 times where we either broke wind (SBD’s not included) or burped out loud.

We men are the strong species. We are the go-to guys. We have the answers. We have the solutions. We drive F-650 quad-cabs with hemi’s, ride wild horses and wear light brown, steel-toed cowboy boots. We’ve read all the John Eldredge books out there. We pick our nose when we want. We smack other guys’ butts when they make a good play on the field, and we spit where and when we decide. We wear cowboy hats and star in Viagra commercials pulling our horse trailers.

Achilles Heel

But when we men suffer from depression, we have no time for bravado. We can’t “MacGyver” our way through it. Depression is bigger than we are. We can’t always figure our way out of it. We need help. Depression is our Achilles Heel. Like grabbing both feet of any running back in the NFL, no matter how great they are or how much money they make, they will go down every time.

If you’re a man reading this post and you think you may be suffering from depression, there’s only one option:

GET.HELP.

(you won’t lose your man-card)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Positive Psychology

Remember to watch the video, click the title, Positive Psychology.

No, I'm not talking positive psychology, someone else is. Watch the video below, it's 12:30, but it's humorous, and there's a great point about how we live our lives.

I'm not sure if the speaker, Shawn Achor is a Christian, but his principles about happiness are on target. He does not refer to experiencing inner joy, which we gain through the Holy Spirit, but most of us base our happiness on externals, which we can often control. So, take a look and let me know what you think . . .

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Scripture Memorization - Week 6

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. -- 1 John 1:9.
This is a wonderfully powerful passage reminding us of the big "IF". If we confess our sins to God, He not only is faithful and just, but He will also forgive us of our sins, and then He will cleanse us, purify us from all of our unrighteousness (sin)!

Thanks be to God!!

Amen!

Monday, January 23, 2012

THE CHURCH

As I've been thinking about the church lately, who we are, what we are about, what we are not supposed to be about, I came up with a short list . . .

What do you think? What would you add or subtract from my list?

If Jesus was living in me and in His church what type of fruit should I bear?

1. I should have a greater desire for Him.

2. I should have a greater love of people, all people.

3. I should hate sin . . . (yes, I know and love the sinner).

4. I should be humble, thinking others are better than me (aka humility).

5. I should be practicing the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control).

6. I should be generous (financially, with time and resources).

7. I should be taking care of my body.

8. I should be drawing closer to Him.

9. I should be obedient to Him, not because I have to, but because I want to.

If Jesus was living in the church, what should the church produce?

1. People that love one another.

2. People who are passionate about Jesus.

3. People who are open to receiving all people (since all people are sinners).

4. People who work together for His good, not ours.

5. People who seek to serve, rather than be serve.

6. People who are focused on bring others to a transforming relationship with Jesus.

7. People who are willing to put aside their 'rights' so that others can experience redemption
and acceptance through Christ.

8. People who are filled with His hope and love, power, strength and courage!

9. People who are filled with joy and passion, in the midst of sorrow.

On the flip side of that, Jesus Does Not Produce:

1. A critical spirit

2. Racism

3. Fighting within the church (aka - selfishness)

4. Bitterness / unforgiveness

5. Dead and self serving worship

6. Boring preaching

7. Gossip

8. Passionless followers

9. Fear

What else can you think of? I'd really be interested in your thoughts!!

Scripture Memorization - Week 3

Here is this week's Scripture Memorization ~

It comes from Joshua 1:9 ~ God is speaking to Joshua . . .

"Have I not commanded you: Be strong and courageous, but not afraid nor dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go."

Joshua is about to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land. Moses is dead and he is the new leader! Imagine the fear and anxiety, but 3 times in the first verses, God says to Joshua, "be strong and courageous!"

I love this verse!! It's the reason we named Joshua, Joshua! Wherever you go, you can be strong and courageous, wherever you go, you don't have to be afraid or dismayed, all for the same reason . . . (drum roll please) The Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go!! How comforting, how reassuring to know that the God of all creation will be with us . . . ALWAYS!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Scripture Memorization - Week 2

Here is week 2's Scripture memorization . . .

(Jesus said,) "The thief only comes to steal and to kill and to destroy; I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly." - John 10:10

Jesus gives us the great offer of living the super abundant life. Are you? Or have you accepted the life satan, the thief offers you, one in which he seeks to steal and kill and destroy your heart, soul and life?

The choice is always ours!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tebowing

Here is a great article about the heart of Tim Tebow. Whether you think he has football skill or not, he has an amazing heart and passion for people. Read the article by Rick Reilly from ESPN.

http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7455943/believing-tim-tebow


Here is a snippet from Rick Reilly . . .

I've come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.

No, I've come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Who among us is this selfless?

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.

Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.

Remember last week, when the world was pulling its hair out in the hour after Tebow had stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard OT touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs? And Twitter was exploding with 9,420 tweets about Tebow per second? When an ESPN poll was naming him the most popular athlete in America?

Tebow was spending that hour talking to 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about her 73 surgeries so far and what TV shows she likes.

"Here he'd just played the game of his life," recalls Bailey's mother, Kathy, of Loveland, Colo., "and the first thing he does after his press conference is come find Bailey and ask, 'Did you get anything to eat?' He acted like what he'd just done wasn't anything, like it was all about Bailey."

Imagine if more people / athletes were like Tebow.