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Category Archives: Books

Overcoming the Fear of Evangelism

Book Review: Anyone But Me: 10 Ways to Overcome Your Fear and Be Prepared to Share the Gospel, by Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is a passionate evangelist and apologist for the Christian faith. He has been sharing his faith for nearly fifty years. Yet he still battles fear almost every time he approaches someone—just like you and me. Ray’s goal is writing this book is to help each of us get over our fear so that we can confidently share the message of the gospel.

The subtitle of the book highlights 10 ways to overcome your fear and begin sharing your faith. The book is a loose collection of stories and biblical teaching around 10 characteristics or strategies that the author believes is helpful in dealing with fear and getting the message out. The 10 ways are loving, obedient, decisive, defiant, focused, prepared, truthful, practiced, faithful, and prayerful. A large part of the book is examples from the author’s own life of how he lives out each of those characteristics.

One interesting, but different aspect of the author’s practice of evangelism is his use of the 10 Commandments. He will often ask an individual if they are a good person. If they respond, “Yes,” he will ask them how they measure up against the 10 Commandments. As he explains,

This is why any evangelism that leaves out the law in preparing hearts for grace is so dangerous. It merely convinces sinners rather than converts them. It changes minds, not hearts, and abandons people in the pew who are still in their sin.

The book will give you several ideas of how to use everyday activities in sharing your faith. You might want to adopt the author’s practice of riding his bike with his dog wearing sun glasses as a way to capture someone’s attention and start up a conversation.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2020 in Books, Evangelism, Quotes

 

A Mental Approach to Total Fitness

Book Review: Get Your Mind Right: 10 Keys to Unlock Your Potential and Ignite Your Success, by Todd Durkin with Mike Yorkey

Todd Durkin is a fitness guru and life coach who has trained NFL players, high-performance athletes, and high-profile individuals. He is the founder of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, author of best-selling books, and a frequent inspirational and motivational speaker on the conference circuit.

As the author explains, all of us are on a journey, but not many of us are aware of what is happening all around us as we go through life. To change that, the author wants to encourage his readers to make a plan and take control of their life. that requires changing our mindset, gaining control of our thought life, learning to overcome obstacles, stopping bad habits and starting good ones, mastering our time and energy, training ourselves to win, having a healthy diet, learning to balance work and rest, listening to what God is teaching, and living a life worth telling others about. He devotes a chapter to each one of these topics.

Throughout the book, Todd blends stories about his successes with the mistakes he has made. He shares about what he has learned from his mentors and those who have influenced him. He also drops the names of athletes and famous people he has worked with. While at times off-putting, it does lend credibility to what he is saying. Part of what he teaches is doable for the average person, but part of it feels aimed at more serious competitors.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2020 in Books, Health

 

What does a real man look like? One author’s viewpoint.

Book Review: Good Man: An Honest Journey into Discovering Who Men Were Actually Created to Be, by Nathan Clarkson

Author Nathan Clarkson is a thirty-something actor, author, filmmaker, artist, poet, and full-time wannabe philosopher. In his latest venture, he sets out to tell men who and what they were meant to be. He identifies 15 characteristics of what he believes should be in every true man’s life.

In the Introduction, the author explains how he came up with his list.

For a long time, I’ve wrestled with this notion of what a good man is and how I can become one. Eventually, when it was evident the modern world didn’t have the answers it was looking for, I turned to the Creator of men to see if maybe there, in His words, I could find a more satisfying and complete picture of who I was trying so hard to become.

I went back to God’s Word and looked at what the Creator says, I went through history and looked at the men who made a positive difference in the world, and I looked at the men in my own life who I considered to be good men (there were not many). Then I began piecing together a new image of what a good man might truly be.

The author spends one chapter on each of the 15 characteristics in his list—Adventurous, Devout, Heroic, Honest, Brotherly, Healthy, Emotional, Authentic, Romantic, Wise, Ambitious, Fighting, Simple, Servant-Hearted, and Committed. He uses a number of stories from his own life and experience to illustrate his thoughts.

On the one hand, his list of characteristics is commendable. On the other hand, they are not necessarily biblical. They are good qualities to aspire to, but not ones necessarily commanded in the Scriptures. The early chapters are based more on personal experience and desire while the latter chapters do include some Scriptural content. Overall, however, the book feels more like Christian pop-psychology than a presentation of biblical manhood. While the author has some good things to say, I’m not sure a thirty-year-old single man has the needed life experience to speak authoritatively on the subject. But that’s just my opinion.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2020 in Books, Men, Quotes

 

Exploring C. S. Lewis’s Literary work

Book Review: The Neglected C. S. Lewis, by Mark Neal and Jerry Root

When most people think of C. S. Lewis, they think of his fiction works like The Chronicles of Narnia or his space trilogy. They might also think of his theological or apologetic writings such as Mere Christianity. But chances are good that very few people would consider his works of literary criticism.

In their book, The Neglected C. S. Lewis, authors Mark Neal and Jerry Root, examine eight of Lewis’s works of literary criticism. Their goal in this volume is to help readers gain a greater understanding of C. S. Lewis as a person. They also want to introduce the reader to books that will in turn lead to other authors of which one might not be aware. The eight books they examine also reveal the development of many of Lewis’s most important ideas. As the authors explain, “In these books that make up The Neglected C. S. Lewis one encounters an open door into a body of literature that leads out of the self and into a wider world.”

While well written, the book is not easily digested. It reads like a college textbook and will require pondering and consideration. You will discover new dimensions of Lewis that you were not aware previously.

I received an ebook edition of this book for free from the author in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2020 in Books, Quotes

 

Vision Drives Everything

Book Review: The Vision Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus your Efforts, Energize your Team, and Scale your Business, by Michael Hyatt

The most important characteristic of a leader is that they know where they want their organization to go. The second most important characteristic is that they communicate the vision so that everyone is moving in the same direction. These two characteristics sets leaders apart from managers. This is the main idea of Michael Hyatt latest book, The Vision Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus your Efforts, Energize your Team, and Scale your Business.

The author divides the book into three parts. Part 1 is Vision Drives Everything. In this section, the author explains the difference between leaders and managers and also describes what happens when a leader doesn’t have a vision. Part 2 focuses on Drafting Your Vision Script. This section asks and answers five basic questions—What do you want? Is it clear? Does it inspire? Is it practical? and Can you sell it? Part 3 looks at The Challenge Ahead. This section deals with facing resistance, knowing when to change your vision and direction, and how to prepare for the journey ahead.

The book is filled with numerous stories and examples from current events, historical events, and industry leaders. The author crafts countless illustrations to paint a picture of what to do and what not to do. In addition, the author tells his own stories of both success and failure. It is a well written, entertaining business book. While aimed at business and industry, the book provides principles which can be adapted and implemented by anyone in a leadership setting.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2020 in Books, Leadership

 

Go deeper with God

Book Review: The Sacred Chase: Moving from Proximity to Intimacy with God, by Heath Adamson

Many people know about God, but never quite know him personally or deeply. We have the idea that religion is a good way to spend our time and never really develop a relationship with Christ. That is the point of Heath Adamson’s latest offering, The Sacred Chase: Moving from Proximity to Intimacy with God.

As the author explains,

Many of us confuse proximity to Jesus with intimacy with Jesus. God did not send his Son into the world so we could have something else to do on Sundays. Jesus came because apart from him all of life’s experiences, successes, failure, and memories are merely temporal, insignificant in light of eternity, and therefor illusory and figments of our imagination.

Using moving stories, encouraging personal illustrations, and sound biblical teaching, the author describes how to develop a deeper and more intimate relationship with God. Throughout the book, the author tells the story of a demon-possessed man who encountered Jesus (Mark 5). Rather than run away from Christ, he ran towards him and his life was transformed. The author’s message is that a personal spiritual hunger can only be satisfied by Christ. In turn, Christ can provide hope, heal our shame, and take away our excuses.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2020 in Books, Personal growth, Quotes, Scripture

 

An overview for training leaders in the church

Book Review: The Leadership Formula: Develop the Next Generation of Leaders in the Church, by Juan Sanchez

Pastor and author Juan Sanchez believes the church has a leadership problem. Far too often, churches focus on competency, skills, and giftedness, but they fail to consider the biblical qualifications for leadership. While the church can and should raise up faithful leaders, we must also consider what kind of leaders we are raising up. His book is a basic primer on how to develop godly leaders.

In chapters 1 and 2, the author lays out a biblical foundation for leadership in which he summarizes the problem.

In Genesis 1 and 2, God established the pattern of leadership. The man and the woman are equal as God’s image, and each has a distinct role unique to their gender. The man was created to lead, protect, and provide, while the woman was created to come alongside the man and help and encourage his leadership. Sadly, though, instead of faithfully reflecting the divine image, Adam and Eve rebelled against God. So God cursed them, and as a part of that curse, the man and the woman entered into a relationship of conflict, characterized by a battle for control. That’s the leadership problem.

In chapters 3-9, he lays out what he proposes as the biblical formula to observe and evaluate faithful men in potential leadership roles. Pastors and elders must not only model biblical leadership; we must continually develop biblical leaders, so that the church may continue in faithful ministry until Christ returns. Churches should seek to develop leaders with godly character, biblical and theological convictions, competence to teach God’s word, and experience to caringly shepherd the church faithfully. Together, these qualities demonstrates the leaders’ credibility.

In chapter 10-11, he applies his principles to pastors, parents, and Christians in general. The author provides practical instructions to each group on how to develop godly leaders in their context.

The book is thoroughly biblical and offers examples from the author’s church and ministry. The book provides an overview of the topic of leadership development. It will get you started in developing a philosophy of leadership development. However, you will need additional tools and resources to flesh out the concepts and form a practical plan for implementation.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program http://www.bhbloggers.com/. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2020 in Books, Leadership, Quotes

 

Ministering to Millennials

Book Review: Welcoming the Future Church: How to Reach, Teach, and Engage Young Adults, by Jonathan “JP” Pokluda with Luke Friesen

Ministering to young adults is a challenge for many churches. While some do it well, others need help and encouragement. Jonathan “JP” Pokluda has written a helpful book aimed at providing proven principles and practices that will help churches attract and retain younger generations.

The authors have divided the book into three sections—Teach, Engage, and Deploy. The chapter titles are fairly self-explanatory. In the section on Teach, the authors suggest pastors should Be Real, Teach the Whole Truth, and Get Good Feedback. In the section on Engage, they say we should Hold Traditions Loosely, Under-Promise and Over-Deliver, and Define a Path Forward. In the third section, Deploy, the authors suggest churches should Find Leaders, Call Them to Greatness, Give the Ministry Away, Create Unique Shared Experiences, and Remember the Vision.

On the one hand, the principles and ideas are practical and helpful. On the other hand, they are not unique to ministering to young adults. They can and should be implemented with ministry to any age group. They are basic principles that should be part of a pastor’s philosophy of ministry.

Along with the principles, the author includes many examples and stories of how he implemented them in his previous ministry. While that is helpful, it began to sound like “here’s how we did it and you should too.” It would have been more helpful if he included stories and examples from other churches to provide a broader based and sense of balance.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2020 in Books, Church

 

Jack Ryan meets Nathan Ford

Book Review: Chasing the White Lion, by James R. Hannibal

If you combine Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy’s novels with Nathan Ford from the TV show Leverage, you have the main characters in James Hannibal’s latest offering, Chasing the White Lion. The main character, Talia Inger, is a CIA operative. She reluctantly partners with Adam Tyler and his merry band of thieves, hackers, and grifters. Together, they try to infiltrate The Jungle, a major crime syndicate led by The White Lion, while at the same time trying to discover a CIA mole who is trying to kill Talia, as well as rescuing children from a human trafficking ring. While the subplots appear separate and distinct, the author begins to weave them all together into one cohesive story.

Chasing the White Lion is the second book in the author’s Clandestine Services series. It is the sequel to The Gryphon Heist. Both books are well written and thoroughly enjoyable. In addition to being a compelling page turner, the author weaves in spiritual principles involving the topic of forgiveness, faith, and family. A very enjoyable read.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2020 in Books

 

Forgive, if you want to have a long, healthy ministry

In his book, Resilient: Key Factors in a Long and Successful Pastorate, author John Miller includes the “Capacity to Forgive Wrongs Suffered” as one of his factors. He writes,

I am persuaded that ministers who remain spiritually healthy through the years and decades have made the often-challenging decision not to hold grudges. They have endeavored to wish no ill on those who have wronged them, lied about them, betrayed them, backstabbed them, front stabbed them or abused them. In fact, these shepherds have learned through the rugged realities of ministry that forgiveness is the best medicine for healing a wounded heart.

I think the author has hit the nail on the thumb. Though difficult to do, it is so much healthier in the long run to let go of the hurts and forgive those who caused them. I have found it helpful to pray a blessing for those individuals when God brings them to my mind today.

 

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2020 in Books, Ministry, Quotes