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Category Archives: Books

Good news for the rest of us

Book Review: Blessed are the Misfits: Great News for Believers who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something, by Brant Hansen

Christian books tend to be written by megachurch pastors, people with an outstanding testimony, those who have overcome great odds to become wildly successful, and others who have a riveting story to share. While we encouraged and entertained by these books, many times we walk away wondering why we don’t have a similar story to tell.

Author and radio host Brant Hansen has written a book for those of us who feel like we don’t fit in. We wonder why we still struggle with sin, why we aren’t passionate about our faith, why we struggle to tell others we are Christians, and why we feel like we are missing the key ingredient for a victorious faith. The author writes from his own experience of being an introvert and an “Aspie” (he was diagnosed with Asperger’s on the Autism Spectrum Disorder scale).

The book addresses topics such as if we don’t feel God’s presence, what to do when we don’t like talking to people let alone sharing our faith with them, and the struggle to pray. Written from the context of the author’s own struggles, the book is very personal and real. While I wouldn’t say it is the most encouraging and uplifting book, it is one which is very honest. It will encourage you to embrace both who you are and how good God is.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2017 in Books

 

Helpful relationships that enhance growth

I am working my way through Jimmy Dodd’s book, Survive or Thrive: 6 Relationships Every Pastor Needs.In part 1, he describes what happens when a pastor lacks integrity, that is, his front stage personality or character is different from his back stage personality and character. In part 2, he introduces his solution of the six relationships a pastor needs in order to be healthy and grow. In visual form, his model looks like this.

His model reminds me of what Prof Howard Hendricks often said, “Every man needs a Paul, a Timothy, and a Barnabas in their life. Every woman needs an Elizabeth, a Mary, and a Martha in their life. We all need a mentor, a protege, and a friend.”

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2017 in Books, Mentors, Ministry, Quotes

 

Insight from a Country Music Hall of Famer

Book Review: Never Look At the Empty Seats: A Memoir, by Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, shortly before his eightieth birthday. In this memoir, Charlie shares his story from growing up in North Carolina in the late 1930’s and 1940’s to becoming a self-taught guitar, mandolin, and fiddle player. He describes the people who mentored him and help him grow as a person, musician, and performer. He also shares some personal photographs during different eras of his life.

Three-fourths of the book describe his personal, musical, and professional journey. The remainder of the book shares his faith journey, including a clear presentation of the gospel, his non-politically correct thoughts on issues of the day, and his induction into the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The book is not flashy or a literary masterpiece. Instead, it is a plain-spoken, heartfelt reflection on one man’s journey and the people who helped him make it. I found it to be insightful and encouraging.

While I am not a musician, I am a performer of a different sort as a pastor. Consequently, I found one of his life lessons to be extremely encouraging and helpful.

One of life’s most important lessons I’ve learned, as it relates to the path I’ve chosen, is like the old song says, “accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative.”

Walk onstage with a positive attitude. Your troubles are your own and are not included in the ticket price.

Some nights you have more to give than others, but put it all out there every show.

You’re concerned with the people who showed up, not the ones who didn’t. So always give them a show, and never look at the empty seats.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2017 in Books, Quotes

 

Honest lessons about life and business

Book Review: Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff, by Chip Gaines

If you are a fan of the HGTV reality show, Fixer Upper, you will enjoy reading Chip Gaines book, Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff. Chip shares honest and humorous stories about his successes and failures in life and business.

The book is divided into three parts. In Part 1: A Time to Learn, Chip shares about his background. He tells stories about growing up, playing baseball, juggling three businesses in college, and lessons he and his wife, Joanna learned in the early years of their dating and marriage. In Part 2: A Time to Grow, he tells stories about how they got started in retail, remodeling houses, and fell into reality TV. He also explains how the town of Waco, Texas, helped shape his identity and approach to life. in Part 3: A Time to Build, Chip talks about where they are headed in the future, including why they are ending their popular TV show after the current season. He challenges his readers to pursue their own dreams and how he does that with his employees.

Rather than being a book about business principles, it is more about life lessons and how to invest in and take a chance on yourself. The book is entertaining and encouraging.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2017 in Books, TV

 

Making sense of contemporary Islam

Book Review: Muslim: What You Need to Know About the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion, by Hank Hanegraaff

Is Islam a religion of peace? Does culture under an Islamic caliphate outshine culture under Christianity? Does Islam blend church and state or keep them separate? Is Islam a threat to the west? What do we need to know to understand Islam?

Hank Hanegraaf serves as president of Christian Research Institute (CRI) and hosts the internationally syndicated Bible Answer Man broadcast and the Hank Unplugged podcast. In his latest book, Muslim: What You Need to Know About the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion, the author seeks to provide insight into the many questions surrounding Islam.

In the Introduction, the author states,

Islam is the only significant religious system in the history of the human race with a sociopolitical structure of laws that mandate violence against the infidel. This graphic global reality makes Islam a religious ideology espousing terrorism as a permanent policy rather than as a temporary expedient. Such is historical reality, from the early seventh-century Medina massacres to the 9/11 twenty-first century Manhattan massacre and beyond.

The current narrative is that to tell the truth in this regard is tantamount to radicalizing Muslims and exacerbating hostilities that may otherwise lie dormant. A common refrain has reverberated throughout the West: “Islam is not our adversary.”

Still later in the Introduction, the author asks,

Are such acts of terrorism a function of a hijacked religion, or is this what we should expect from authentic Islam? … Is it possible to attribute the reality of millions of peace-loving Muslims to a sort of cognitive dissonance that allows them to enjoy their teachings and traditions despite the bloody history in which they were forged? Could it be that what they wish were true about their religion isn’t actually so?

To answers these questions, the author uses a series of acrostics to explain the facts about Islam. He codified the fact around the acronym M-U-S-L-I-M.

  • M – Muhammad: From rages to riches to radicalization. The author takes a close look at the life and legacy of Islam’s quintessential man.
  • U – Unreliable Revelations: The emperor has no clothes. The author points out the discrepancies in the Qur’an. He shows that the Qur’an sanctions murder, adultery, stealing, false testimony, and coveting.
  • S – Sharia is state and state is sharia. Rather than being a sanitized religion in the Western sense of the word, Islam is a comprehensive socioeconomic-political juggernaut riding on the rails of sharia. One of the core values of sharia is inequality for women.
  • L – Levant: Crossroads of world history. The Levant is a land-bridge linking three continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa). The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem reflects Islam’s unmistakable message—Islam is the culmination of Judaism and Christianity, and Muhammad is the climax of the prophets.
  • I – Islamic State: Return of the caliphate. The author explains that Islamic State is a moniker not only emblematic of a twenty-first-century terror network but is indicative of the way of Muhammad.
  • M – Major Muslim Misapprehensions. To explain the differences between Christian and Islamic beliefs, the author employs another acrostic—D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E. He explains what Christianity and Islam believe about the Deity of Christ, Original sin, the divine Canon or doctrine of Scripture, Trinity, Resurrection, the Incarnation, New Creation or doctrine of salvation, and Eschatology or the doctrine about future things.

The book is thoroughly researched and well written. It is well worth the read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2017 in Books, Culture

 

Intellectual proof for serious questions about the Bible

Book Review: Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (The Completely Updated and Expanded Classic), by Josh McDowell & Sean McDowell, Ph.D.

I was first introduced to Josh McDowell and Evidence that Demands a Verdict in the mid-70’s when I was a student at Biola University. The book was instrumental in helping me get a better grasp on the trustworthiness of Scripture. His second volume, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict added and built on that earlier foundation. Both books were instrumental in my research, writing papers, and helping answer questions in sharing my faith.

Josh McDowell has now partnered with his son, Sean, who teaches apologetics at Biola to update and expand his classic work. The updated version is close to 900 pages of valuable resources on the Bible and Jesus. Part 1 deals with evidence for the Bible. Part 2 provides evidence for Jesus. Part 3 adds evidence for the Old Testament. Part 4 contributes evidence for truth. This last section provides answers for postmodernism and skepticism. In the Appendix, the authors provide responses to the challenges of Bart Ehrman, who is one of the leading critics of Christianity today.

The book is written in outline form. Coupled with a complete table of contents, it makes it easy to find and research the specific question you want to answer regarding the reliability of the Bible or evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, to name just two of the many topics covered in the book.

The updated version is a valuable and welcome resource for serious students of Christianity. It is a welcome addition to any library.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Apologetics, Biola University, Books

 

Hope that sustains

Book Review: All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything you Love, by John Eldredge

When we experience seasons of loss—loss of a dream, death of a loved one, friends moving away, becoming empty nesters after a child’s graduation or wedding—we have to deal with times of grief. We also need to find a hope that will sustain us and help us move forward.

What if someone told you that everything you’ve lost will be restored to you, but in even better shape than before? What if someone said that all the things you loved will be renewed?

This is the premise of John Eldredge’s latest offering, All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything you Love. The title and theme come from Revelation 21:5 where Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Eldredge’s point is that Jesus is not making new things, but regenerating the old ones into new and better condition. If we believe that God is going to restore our lives and everything we love any day now, this hope will give us an anchor which will not only sustain us, but help us to look forward to the future with hope.

All Things New is a very encouraging book. As with John Eldredge’s previous books, it is real, honest, gritty, emotional, and uplifting. He draws illustrations from personal experience, movies, literature, and daily life. While not intended to be a book of theology, it will give you a new perspective on eternity and cause you to rethink your view of heaven.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Books, Heaven