Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bible Prophecy made real

After becoming a Christian, I read Hal Lindsay’s book, “The Late Great Planet Earth.”  It was my introduction to Bible prophecy.  I have always been intrigued by Bible prophecy but have stayed somewhat removed from it, because it can be so polarizing.  Yet, after reading this book, “The Holy Land Key” by Ray Bentley, I am intrigued once again.

Bentley approaches prophecy from a very personal, real and relevant standpoint.  He has spent many years exploring Israel from within.  He has traveled to Israel, has met people and talked to people who have helped him better understand the scriptures and their relationship to the nation of Israel and the lives of people who are directly impacted by the events in this holy land.

He takes a direct look at the difficult questions and issues that divide the world when it comes to the future of Israel.  Being raised Jewish I appreciated his love and care for the people of Israel.  I also benefitted from his discussion on the Seven feasts and their relationship to Israel and Christ.

This is an engaging book and will force the reader to open their eyes to what Bentley has written.  I believe you need to approach this book with an open mind, not closed minded and you will greatly benefit from his words.  This is not an easy and quick book to read.  Read it slowly and digest the words Bentley offers about the Israelites and Palestinians.

You can listen to pastor Ray ~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1E0zBCojHc

I received this book for free through the "Multnomah Publishing - Blogging for Books” reading program.

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Monday, December 16, 2013


I really enjoy reading books about history, as the books are great tools to learn more about our leaders, their successes and failures.  In his book, "Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America's Greatest Virtue," David Bobb has written a book helping us to see the great character in many of our leaders.

He begins this book by looking at history, including a look at the humblest of all, Jesus.  Bobb quotes scripture as he helps us see the beauty and power of humility.  His focus are five of our nations difference makers ~ George Washington, James Madison, Abagail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglas.  Prior to his look at Jesus, Bobb begins with a look at Benjamin Franklin.

Bobb is a historian and as such, he understood the challenges and difficulties each person was facing.  This helped me gain a better understanding of their humility and at times how difficult it was to demonstrate.  He concludes the book by looking at the current age and our arrogance and with it, our lack of humility.

This was an excellent book.  It is a short book, but not a quick and easy read.  I would have enjoyed reading about other U.S. historical figures who shaped our nation.  If you enjoy early American history, you will appreciate reading this book.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson, as part of its Book Review Blogger Program. 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.”

You can watch an introduction about the book at this link!

I review for BookSneeze®

Friday, December 13, 2013

Great Story of Grace and Forgiveness

I never read Brennan Manning's most popular book, "The Ragamuffin Gospel."  Now, after reading this book, I think I'll have to go back and read his earlier work.  Manning died in April of this year, so this is his last work.

The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story centers on a pastor named Jack Chisholm.  Jack was the pastor of a mega church.  He was called the  "the people's pastor" and brought in 4,000 people to worship and even more watching him on television.  He was famous and popular.  He had written several books and was known for his saying, "We have got to do better!"

Now, he's lost.  Everything he worked for is gone.  He was feeling completely lost, he had lost his wife, his daughter, and his church.  Everything which was important to Jack is gone.  He was drinking and ended up committing adultery with his personal assistant, Sally.

Jack is lost and alone, and now he comes in contact with his estranged father.  His father was dead to Jack.  However, his father, Tom Chisholm, is terminally ill, and wants to have a relationship with Jack.  He calls his son home.  Thinking about his father causes Jack to become angrier and angrier.  He had not spoken to his father in over 10 years.  His memories are mixed.  There are great and terrible memories.

So that I don't ruin the story, and you can picture how the story unfolds, I would encourage you to read it, and see the grace and forgiveness that is available and accepted.

This is an excellent book, with the only caveat being the fact that drinking while being one aspect of Jack's sin is used on a fairly regular basis in the book.

I received this book free of charge, in exchange for an honest review.

This is a wonderfully written book with a strong message of love, grace, and forgiveness - a story that could shape the hearts and minds of many. 4 star rating and I highly recommend.

The Pain and Joy of the Plow

Trials and Pain: The Sharp Blade of the Plow

A.W. Tozer was one of the great Pastors, Christian writers and theologians of the 20th century.  I read a daily reading from Tozer and wanted to share todays ---

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.Hosea 10:12

Tozer writes ~
The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow.... But it is paying a terrible price for its tranquility: Never does it see the miracle of growth; never does it feel the motions of mounting
life nor see the wonders of bursting seed nor the beauty of ripening grain. Fruit it can never know because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.

In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always come, practical, cruel, business-like and in a hurry. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken, but its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it. All over the field the hand of God is at work in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born, to grow, mature, and consummate the grand prophecy latent in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature's wonders follow the plow. Paths to Power, 31-32.

Prayer - "Lord, make me a cultivated field.  I suspect the price will be high, but I long to bear fruit for Your glory.  Do the hard work of the farmer in my life today. Amen."

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

10 Good Men

We all need mentors and encouragement! Men, women and children need people in our lives who can help us grow spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically. Patrick Morley’s book, “How God Makes Men” attempts to give us men some biblical examples of men who can help us in our daily lives.
Morley looks at 10 different men from the Bible ~ Abraham Moses Gideon David Solomon Nehemiah Job Peter, and Paul.
The book is written in an easy to read format. The hope is that the reader will be able to identify with the different Biblical characters and continue in the change process. Morley identifies the strengths and weaknesses of each person discussed. He does not try to sugar coat their faults, but looks at them with realism and then leads us to see their accomplishments and encourages men to move forward from their faults, sins and mistakes.
This book can be read individually or as a group study. At the end of every chapter, Morley includes questions for reflection and discussion, as well as a study guide for a group study at the end of the book.
I believe Morley could have gone a little deeper with some of the characters he wrote about. For example, he really does not touch on Gideon’s shortcomings, which would have been relevant for our time. In addition, while he wanted to discuss Biblical men, he missed talking about Jesus as the ultimate Man
In spite of this, I still appreciated this book, and it may make a nice Christmas present for the man in your life who seeks to grow in all aspects of his life.
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.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

From Little Boy to H.E.R.O.

"Raising Boys By Design" by Gregory L. Jantz, and Michael Gurian is a book I wish I had read when my boys were younger.  This is an excellent resource which helped me better understand my role as a father to two teenage boys.  The authors don’t tell you what to do on every aspect of raising boys, since every person is different, but there are great learning tools, in which I could see myself and what I’ve done correctly and what I’ve messed up on. 

Reading this book will help me to be a better father, to encourage and strengthen my boys to become mature and Godly, Christ centered men of God.  The book is broken into two sections.  The goal of the first section is to help the reader understand God’s plan for boys.  They do this by helping us understand boys develop differently than girls.  In addition, they explain what boys learn from moms and what they learn from dads.  They generalize, but are pretty much on target with what they write.

The second section is an attempt to put it all together.  The goal is to have our boys be H.E.R.O.s for God.  They use the acronym HERO, which means ~

Honor: adhering to truth, values and principles beyond self
Enterprise: working at important things whether they seem small or large
Responsibility: carrying important things and people throughout life
Originality: being a dreamer, a thinker, an explorer in the world

The goal, then is to enhance and develop these areas in your boys.  While all of our children, boys and girls have similar struggles, they often go about dealing with them and resolving them in different ways.  Again, the authors seek to explain how to help our boys develop by writing about areas such as — character and self-discipline, protecting their heart, sexuality, school, technology, and move forward into the world.

Overall, this an excellent resource to have.  I hope to reread this book and share it with my boys so they know I am invested in their future, and am trying to be a better father to the boys God has blessed me with.

I received a review copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Global War on Christians

I'm not really certain why I requested this book to review.  Reading previews was rather disconcerting, and maybe that's why I wanted to read this book.  In our part of the world, as scary as some things may be, we really have no threat of physical persecution.

In this book, The Global WAR on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecutions, John Allen Jr. brings this unknown world to reality in ways I had not heard.  Is this propaganda?  I don't believe so.  Yet, we move along remaining ignorant (not always our choice) because this is so under reported by the media.

Yet, interestingly, Newsweek Magazine found it important to release an issue in February 2012, which featured a cover story by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  Ali has a storied past, and is from Somalia and considers herself an atheist.  Yet the cover of Newsweek in this issue is below. 
It's a poignant reminder of the war which is being waged against Christians outside of the United States. What bothered me is the fact that this is well known, but so little is seemingly being done to help the innocent victims, many who are being tortured and left to live in disgusting conditions.

I can list many, many atrocities being committed against Christians, some because they are preaching Christ, some because they are simply Christian and they are not following the state mandated governments.  Each chapter is separated by region of the country, as Allen gives numerous examples of crimes being committed about Christ followers.

As you read this book, you will also learn that in many of the countries where these crimes are being committed, the authorities of the country's in which these are occurring have turned a blind eye to the crimes.

John Allen offers thoughts about "what can be done."  Yet, it seems so miniscule.  He does recognize that, but adds, 'we have to start with small steps' which ultimately grow into something big.  He recommends starting with prayer, donations in a micro fashion, getting involved and learning more so we can speak about the atrocities, speak out about what is happening, think globally about the church.

Overall, this was not a fun book to read, but I am so glad I read the book, so I can gain a better awareness of how followers of Jesus Christ are being treated.  We spend way too much time in our country bickering about right and left; when people are being killed, as Allen states at the rate of 10 Christians per hour every hour of the day, every day!

I received this book for free from Random Books, in exchange for an impartial and honest review.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

31 Days to Happiness

Pastor David Jeremiah has written a very practical book in 31 Days to Happiness: How to Find What Really Matters in Life.  This is an easy to read book which is based on the book of Ecclesiastes.  This is not a commentary, yet can be referred to as a practical commentary.  Jeremiah seeks to lead the reader through the life of Solomon as he looks through Ecclesiastes, chapter by chapter. 

Ultimately, Jeremiah's goal is to help the reader understand what Solomon struggled with in his later years, as he exclaimed, "Vanity is vanities, all is vanity."  There was a profound meaninglessness to Solomon, even though he had it all.

Jeremiah breaks the book down into 31 chapters.  Each chapter consists of approximately 10 pages.  It's a book which can be read in a few days, but I would recommend taking your time and digesting what he had to say and how it can relate to our lives.

Jeremiah uses a great number of examples to help the reader understand the attainment and the failures of other people.  31 Days to Happiness was easy to read and understand, but it would have been great if a Study Guide was included in the book.

I received this book at no cost from Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for an unbiased review.

I review for BookSneeze®

The Power of a Half Hour

I can't tell you how many times I have said, "I don't have the time."  Or "I planned on doing this and that, but time slipped away and I never got to it."  Does that sound familiar?  Tommy Barnett attempts to answer our time problems in his upcoming book, "The Power of a Half Hour: Take Back Your Life Thirty Minutes at a Time."

There are 30 short chapters in this book, averaging about 8 pages per chapter.  Barnett split the book into 7 Sections, as follows
  • Impact
  • Purpose and Goals
  • Faith
  • Character
  • Dreams
  • Relationships
  • Advancing God's Kingdom

In the back of the book is a Study Guide, as well as a one page synopsis of each chapter, which highlights the guiding principle he wants us to put into practice.  This book struck a chord with me as I seek to prioritize my time and be as efficient as possible.  While it was not possible to put every thought into practice.  There are a great deal of nuggets for the reader to take with him or her through Barnett's personal stories and anecdotes.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book.  The main ideas focus on using our time to effect change in the seven areas Barnett discussed.  It's easy to read, understandable and has principles which can help change a person's life.

Pastor Barnett's book will be available December, and would be a great Christmas present. You may watch a brief video about the book at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/blog/2013/04/22/video-power-of-a-half-hour-by-tommy-barnett/

I received this book for free from "Water Brook/Multnomah Publishing Group" in exchange for a nonbiased review. 

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Friday, August 30, 2013

The REAL Win

The Real Win: A Man's Quest for Authentic Success

Most men attempt to measure success through external means.  We count our coins, our toys, our pride and ego; yet in the end we often find ourselves empty and still wanting more from life.  In this book, The Real Win: A Man's Quest for Authentic Success, Colt McCoy and Matt Carter correctly state,

"The real win means trusting the Lord, walking with Jesus, and living your life in the way he defined it."  They state men can get the REAL WIN in four main areas of their lives ~

Winning at home – by leading your family as you demonstrate your love of Jesus to your spouse and children.

Winning at work – we need to remember that we work for God, and our work does not consume us and become an idol.

Winning the Character game – we turn to Jesus for help which produces greater character within us. 

Winning the future – as we allow God to mold and refine us.  This occurs through the good times and the difficult times of life.

I was not sure I wanted to read this book.  It’s just another sports book, but I was struck by the sincerity of McCoy on his young journey in life.  He was an outstanding college player, but has not hit it big as some thought in the NFL.  Yet, he writes with powerful honesty about his struggles in all areas of life. 

This is an excellent book for men.  Along with that, my wife picked up the book and really enjoyed reading it as well. 

There is also a study guide for a men’s small group discussion in the back of the book.

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.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fight: Winning our Battles

I’ve read a lot of books for men.  How to be the spiritual leader of the home, how to be the man of the family, how to be a better father, etc.  In his book, Fight: Winning the Battles that Matter Most, Craig Groeschel has written a book about how men were called to be warriors.  He’s pretty clear that this is a book for men, and not for women.  He even encourages women to put the book down.  I didn’t appreciate that, because if this book really applies to me, then it would be great for my wife to read this book.

In essence, Groeschel explains men are designed to by God to be holy warriors.  I don’t really disagree with that thesis, because most men do want to be the warrior and show their mate how they will fight for her.  They (we) want to be the knight in shining armor to rescue our damsel, who’s in distress.

I was surprised Groeschel chose to be base the book on the life of Samson.  While there are many positives we can take from Samson’s life, I find as many negatives and things I should not be doing.  The purpose of choosing Samson is to teach what was right and what was wrong.  Groeschel was able to help me learn more through his study, but I still felt Samson could have been one part of the picture, and he could have used other biblical characters to help bring home the point about what men should be like.

Groeschel pointed out how men usually show emotion by demonstrating anger as opposed to the many other emotions which are within us.  He concludes or surmises that possibly that anger is really self-directed, or directed toward God, and others.  Anger usually is what will drive a man to action.  He also speaks about other issues such as greed, envy, and lust.

This is a pretty short and easy read.  I think most men will see themselves at various points in the book.  Groeschel’s goal is for men to take over the spiritual leadership in their families and to move closer to holiness through self-discipline.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com http://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®

Friday, July 19, 2013

God UN-Distorted

I was not certain I wanted to read this book.  I had some ambivalence towards it, but I am glad I read the book, God Distorted, by John Bishop.  In short, Bishop seeks to help those who have had less than ideal fathers by discussing a number of perceptions and realities we've experienced with our earthly fathers and how they shape our view of God.

He writes about ~
  1. The father who was absent.
  2. The passive father.
  3. The demanding father.
  4. The enabling father.
  5. The controlling father.
  6. The abusive father.
  7. The accusing father.

After writing about this, he then contrasts these father images with positive images of God, writing about God the Father who is always with you, who is in perfect control, the God who is safe, and etc.

Finally, in the third section, Bishop attempts to get more practical and helps the reader put things together to better understand what they can do to cultivate a better relationship with God, even though their earthly father has helped skew their view of the true God.

Overall, this is a very good book and one which is helpful to read.  Bishop didn't have the idyllic life either.  His father died in a drunk driving accident when he was four years old.  As he wrote the book, his own son was in jail.  So, there is an authenticity behind much of what Bishop wrote.

At times, admittedly, it seemed a little slow, especially when reading areas which didn't necessarily apply to me, yet, I would recommend this book, as it can be a source of healing.

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Waterbrook Multnomah books from bloggingforbooks.org

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Monday, July 01, 2013

Fearless and Courageous

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book.  I’m not fully certain why, maybe partly because I knew how it would end, I knew where the book was headed.  Yet, Fearless is an excellent book.  It’s not just a military book, it’s the story of a man, a hero, a man who was fearless with his life, willing to sacrifice for others. 

Sadly, most of the press we receive about the wars we are engaged in are negative.  While there is sadness in this book, we see Adam Brown as a valiant man who placed God first, even though he had to endure consequences from his sins and mistakes.  Brown's life was changed when he met Jesus in a grimy Arkansas jail cell.  His problems didn't go away, but his life dramatically changed.  He became a changed and different man.  He was devoted to his wife, family and his Navy SEALs team.

The author did his work.  He spoke to family and friends of Adam Brown.  We learn about the dedication Adam had in overcoming many injuries to become a SEAL.  We gain insight into the generosity Adam displayed to people wherever he went.  He even helped organize a drive in his church to send shoes to Afghan children when he learned they had to wear open sandals during the cold and brutal mountain winters.  He tried to make the world a better place by making a difference in the lives of others.

His loyalty to his team was shown in their loyalty to him.  When he was shot multiple times and badly wounded his team made heroic efforts to save him and get him to a hospital.  This was a powerful book to read.  It pulled my emotions in many directions.  I would highly recommend this book to others.

I received this free book from Blogging for Books, from Multnomah Press.  My opinions are based on my reading of this book and I was not compelled to give a positive review.

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Be Intentional and read Intentional Walk

Intentional Walk; An Inside Look at the Faith That Drives the St. Louis Cardinals by Rob Rains is a powerful collection of stories about a number of players on the St. Louis Cardinals players and coaches. 

Admittedly, I’m not a Cardinals fan, but I grew in appreciation for the players on the Cardinals.  This is not just a baseball book, telling funny anecdotes, but it’s a mini biography on many players.  As they share stories about triumphs, mistakes and the many ways they overcame their struggles. 

This is a book about the faith of these players.  They aren’t afraid or embarrassed to talk about their faith and share how they’ve overcome and succeeded as they sought God, whether early in their career, or near the end.  There was also a section about the 2012 playoffs in which the Cardinals lost to the Giants.

I was sold on this book in the Introduction.  Mike Matheny wrote a letter to parents when coaching his son’s little league team, and while it was a long letter, he wrote this, “I always said that the only team I would coach would be a team of orphans, and now here we are.   The reason for me saying this is that I have found the biggest problem with youth sports has been the parents.  I think the concept I am asking all of you to grab is that this experience is ALL about the boys.”  I’ve always wanted to say something like that.  Great statement by Matheny.  He also makes no apologies about being a follower of Jesus in that letter.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book from free from www.booksneeze.com to read and review. The opinions above are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

I review for BookSneeze®

Monday, June 03, 2013

Humble Orthodoxy? Yup!

Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris was an easy and difficult read.  It was easy to read, but difficult to digest.  Difficult because Harris spoke about topics which many Christians struggle with.  This is a very good book to read.  The premise of Humble Orthodoxy is the call for each Christ follower to practice humility and grace, while at the same time never abandoning the call to be orthodox in the doctrines of our faith.

He stated, “Christians need to have a commitment to sound doctrine.  We need to be courageous in our stand for biblical truth.  But we also need to be gracious in our words and interactions with other people.”  The goal is always to be humble, yet never lose the doctrine of God’s Word.

He spells this out in a four chapter book which has chapter titles,

  1. Your Attitude matters
  2. With a Tear in Our Eye
  3. Repentance Starts With Me
  4. Living for God’s Approval
All too often Christ followers find it easy to be critical and complain, rather than find ways to encourage and build one another up, to the glory of God.  This is an easy read, but has deep and profound truth throughout the book.  It’s a great reminder that when disagreeing with someone, we don’t need to give in from our position, but how can we speak with love and grace, yet keep our convictions.  Thereby, showing respect and love, while disagreeing.

There is also a very good study guide in the back of the book.  This would be a good small group study book.  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Reclaiming Love ~ An Excellent Read!

So many of the weddings I perform use the scripture from 1 Corinthians 13.  People love to hear the section that “love is patient, love is kind . . .,” but I will not read that scripture without starting at the beginning of the chapter.  It brings the passage to life.

Ajith Fernando, the author of Reclaiming Love: Radical Relationships in a Complex World has masterfully written about the great “love chapter” of the Bible.  His writing is easy to read and understand.  It can be used as a devotional, or as a sermon.  At times he goes in depth to help us better understand what this chapter is about, as particular word meanings are studied.

He used stories and examples from his time in Sri Lanka, which helped bring some of the passages come to life a little more.  Fernando helps us to better understand what it means to love, since love is the cornerstone of faith in Christ.  As we accept His love and then pass His love on to others.  How we love is a sign of our spiritual health.

This was an excellent book and I highly recommend it.  This book was provided by Zondervan through the program called BookSneeze in exchange for an objective review of this book by Ajith Fernando, Reclaiming Love: Radical Relationships in a Complex World.

I review for BookSneeze®

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dreams turned into Reality

I can imagine the joy and excitement of welcoming your child into the world.  But I can't imagine the pain of hearing that your unborn child cannot survive in this world.

This is what was facing Steve and Nancy Peifer.  As they painted the nursery for their son, they also planned his funeral.  Stephen Wrigley, was born with Trisomy 13, a genetic defect described in the medical literature as "incompatible with life."  This normal family of four welcomed Stephen into the world on March 4, 1998, and said good-bye to him eight days later on March 12.

As the family grieved the loss of Stephen, new life was taking place.  A new way of living would be there forever, yet it was going to bring this family to a place they never thought about.  As  Steve, Nancy, along with sons, JT and Matthew experienced God's healing, they gave themselves to the people of Kenya.  This is the story about a remarkably normal, yet remarkable family going into the world and making an amazing difference.

This is a story about how God led this grieving family to Kenya, and today they feed 20,000 Kenyan schoolchildren -- enabling these children to stay healthy, and get an education.  The Peifers made a one-year commitment to work as dorm parents at Rift Valley Academy, a school for missionary children tucked in the high elevations north and west of Nairobi.

Just prior to returning to the United States, Steve visited a Kenyan school.  He saw schoolchildren, in the classroom, lying on the dirt floor, and didn't understand.  The teacher told Steve, "This is Thursday.  Most of these children haven't eaten since Monday. If they try to stand, or even sit up, they will faint."  WOW!

That broke Steve's heart and after returning to the United States, they realized their hearts were still in Kenya.  So, they returned and have made a tremendous impact on the lives of the Kenyan people. 

I highly recommend reading this book.  I received a free copy of this book and have given an unbiased opinion of this book.

I review for BookSneeze®

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sent: Trading in the American Dream

What happens when an ordinary family living out the so-called American Dream comes to realize what they thought was their destiny, no longer is reality?  This is what happened to the Alan family.  It's an interesting story about a family's journey and calling to become missionaries.

Sent is told through the eyes of Hilary Alan, the wife and mother; who felt called to give up the ordinary American life, to become missionaries in Southeast Asia.  Hilary writes about the journey as the family had to make many decisions, including the decision to uproot the family, sell their possessions, try to explain 'who, what, why, where, how and when' to their family and friends.  The decision to take on this calling impacted Hilary, her husband, Curt, and their two children.

Not all were excited about this new journey in their lives.  The Alans' believed they were good, obedient Christians, but when God called them to serve in this manner their lives were turned upside down.

What makes this story better than the average story is that it is true and Hilary Alan does not try to give us the impression that her family was perfect.  She talks about the successes and the struggles.  She talks with stories and paints a picture of opposition which occurred along the way as well.

This is an honest story about one family's journey from normal Christianity to a new normal.  Life was good and convenient for these 'good Christians.'  Their new normal created many changes, but many good things resulted. 

This was a very good book, one I would recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in return for an objective review.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Being an Intentional Parent!

"Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for Planes" seeks to help parents learn more about themselves as they seek to become the best parents they can be.  

The authors are from the Daystar Counseling in Nashville, Tennessee.  Their goal is to help parents get off of "autopilot" and begin to hold onto the wheel and fly.  As a parent, it is too easy to put life on autopilot and coast.  However, the goal of the authors is to help each parent learn more about themselves and about their children.  

The book addresses issues such as patience, being consistent and connected to your child, balanced, playful, encouraging, spiritual, intentional and even a 'grown-up' parent.

The hope in the end is that life will be less stressful and more enjoyable for parents and children.  That's a great goal to shoot at.  I would recommend this book for parents to read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com

Enticing and Convicting!

I wonder why I enjoy reading Andy Stanley books? He pushes me, challenges me, convicts me and leads me to think about leadership and church in ways I had not considered.  Sometimes, I think I just don't like him!  

But I really do like Andy.  His writing is clear, it is not filled with technical terms, it's down to earth writing which helps me process his points.  In this book, which is not new, it was originally published in 2006, Andy discusses the 5 C's of leadership.

Andy spends 3 chapters on each topic and addresses leadership qualities such as ~  

Andy helps each person ~ 
-Discover and play to their strengths 
-Harness your fears 
-Leverage uncertainty 
-Enlist a leadership coach 
-Maintain moral authority

Overall, this is an excellent book.  Easy to read, but it will be difficult to put into practice.  Lots to chew on!

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

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Moving Journey through Cancer

In Stumbling on Open Ground: Love, God, Cancer and Rock 'n Roll, Ken Mansfield and his wife Connie, wrote an open, honest and very moving book about his and their battle with multiple cancers.  Ken was the American producer for the Beatles, under the label of Apple Records.

Ken and Connie detail their journey through two different occurrences of cancer.  They write with honesty about their spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical battle with cancer.  Ken and Connie do not sugar coat the difficulties nor the sickness, the wavering faith, nor do the minimize the joys and faith surprises which occur along the way.

This is a very moving book.  Each chapter begins with a short one page summary about Connie's thoughts, feelings and perceptions.  It was nice to be able to gain insight as to what she was feeling and dealing with.

Even during the time when Ken was battling cancer, he and Connie would speak at various churches and seminars sharing God's work in their lives.  I highly recommend this book.

I received this complimentary book from Booksneeze in exchange for my unbiased review.

I review for BookSneeze®

Monday, February 11, 2013

God is Good

This book should come with a warning label - which tells the reader this is a small book which packs a large punch.  Now, this book doesn't knock you fully down, it's just that Randy Alcorn tackles the question most people would like to ask God, "Why is there so much pain and suffering in this world?"

We all struggle with pain and suffering and Alcorn's desire is to help us, as best as he can, to better understand God's role in the midst of our suffering and pain.  It's a daunting task, which as a pastor, I cannot explain away, and neither can Alcorn.  He doesn't state he has the answers either. 

What he attempts to do is help the reader grasp the gravity of the question as he seeks to bring comfort as we all move through seasons of pain and suffering. 

The book is challenging.  You cannot just read it quickly, you must take your time and gain understanding as to what Alcorn is getting at.  Now, this is a condensed version of another of his books, "If God is Good."  That is a much longer and theological book.

Alcorn is not afraid to tackle the tough issues regarding ~

Evil and suffering.
Poor choices
God's control vs. Our freedom
We're the problem
The role of Christ in suffering and evil
The redemptive power of God;
Why God allows suffering and how it is used for His purposes:
and more

There were a number of excellent quotes.  You definitely need a pen or marker as you read this short but powerful book.

I highly recommend this book.

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Fun Kids Devotional

God Gave Us the Bible: 45 Favorite Stories for Little Ones is a very well done, hardcover introductory Bible for parents to read with thei...