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Category Archives: Books

Practical advice for good communication

Book Review: Before you Hit Send: Preventing Headache & Heartache, by Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.

How many of us have created a mountain of heartache reaped a harvest of hurt feelings because we hurriedly posted a comment on Facebook, tweeted an inappropriate response, or vented in a blog post or email? Dr. Emerson Eggerichs has written a very practical volume to help prevent that from happening again.

While Before you Hit Send: Preventing Headache & Heartache is aimed at the phenomenon of social media, it provides helpful and practical advice for communication in every form. Emerson poses four questions that should guide all of our communication—Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? and, Is it clear? He devotes one chapter to each one of these questions.

The chapters are laid in identical form. They begin with a Scriptural Meditation on the question. He gives numerous verses that provide biblical guidelines for true, kind, necessary, and clear communication. He then discusses the heart of the issue, trying to define what is most important regarding the topic. He discusses how the Golden Rule applies to each question. He then identifies at least twenty mistakes that we make when it comes to true, kind, necessary, and clear communication, as well as how to fix the problem in your own communication and how to address those who abuse it in communicating to you. He closes each chapter by reminding the reader of the standard that God calls us to in communication.

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 August 10, 2017 in Books, Social Media

 

Transforming lives through strategic stewardship

Book Review: A Disruptive Generosity: Stories of Transforming Cities Through Strategic Giving, by Mac Pier

A Disruptive Generosity: Stories of Transforming Cities Through Strategic Giving by Mac Pier is the follow up to his previous book, A Disruptive Gospel. In the first book, the author lays out the philosophy and strategy to using generosity to reach cities with the gospel. In this book, he tells stories of how it is taking place.

In this volume, the author weaves together three big ideas.

The first is God’s vision for the world as referenced in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah gives us the big picture of a God who comes to transform cities, who causes nations and nature to rejoice in him. Isaiah announces the coming of a Savior who will be the ultimate expression of the generosity of God in the gospel.

The second is that of movement. A spiritual movement is taking place when the Christian population is growing faster than the general population. A movement is taking place when the church is making an impact on the great social realities of a city or nation. A movement is taking place when Christian leaders are finding themselves in places of cultural influence.

The third big idea is that of a relational network, a movement of friendship.

The book contains 31 chapters in which the author interviews 40 leaders in 10 countries around the world who are using generosity for the sake of the gospel. While you can easily read the book in one sitting, you could also read one chapter a day over the course of a month and let the stories sink in. The interviews and stories are designed to encourage the reader to think of creative ways to use their own resources to help fuel the advance of the gospel.

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 August 9, 2017 in Books, Finances, Generosity, Quotes

 

Helpful travel guide for the Holy Land

Book Review: The Holy Land for Christian Travelers: An Illustrated Guide to Israel, by John A. Beck

If you are planning a trip to Israel in the near future, you will want to consult The Holy Land for Christian Travelers: An Illustrated Guide to Israel by John A. Beck. The author has spent many years teaching field studies in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt and serves as a permanent adjunct faculty member at Jerusalem University College in Israel.

The book covers the waterfront and includes everything you need to plan your trip. The author begins by instructing the reader on a brief history of the land of Israel. He also includes sections on geography, seasons, and climate—winds, water, and rainfall. He also provides suggested itineraries for a one-week or two-week trip, as well as helpful facts that travelers need to know before coming to the Holy Land.

The bulk of the book gives detailed descriptions of what to see and do in every geographic section of Israel—Jerusalem, both walkable sites and drivable sites; the Coastal Plain; the Central Mountains South; the Central Mountains Center; and the Central Mountains North. The final section of the book contains historical maps of the land of Israel during various time periods of biblical history.

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 August 8, 2017 in Books, Travel

 

The challenge of missions in China

Book Review: Dragon Ride: True Stories of Adventure, Miracles, and Evangelism from China, by Grace Jacob

When the Iron Curtain fell in the early 90’s, one of my mentors with Walk Thru the Bible Ministries lived in Moscow for several months. He was there to help set up the infrastructure for an outreach known as the CoMission. He commented that living in Russia was a full-time job. Whatever ministry you accomplished was gravy because it took all your time and efforts just to live there.

I was reminded of this comment after reading the book, Dragon Ride: True Stories of Adventure, Miracles, and Evangelism from China. Grace Jacob and her husband, Justin (not their real names) were missionaries in Hong Kong and China for 29 years. The book gives insight into the challenges of daily life and the persecution, sometimes subtle and sometimes overt, that missionaries face in a closed access country.

The first half to two-thirds of the book describes the challenges of daily life—securing jobs, finding apartments, dealing with unreasonable landlords, finding adequate health care. The remainder of the book describes some of Grace’s evangelistic discussions, Bible studies, and outreaches to university students.

Towards the end of the book, Grace explains how her ministry in China shaped her.

I was so blessed to have been able to spend 29 years of my life in Hong Kong and Mainland China, making Chinese friends, and speaking the dialects of their hearts. They opened up to me, and I opened my heart to them.

My Chinese friends taught me about love and committed friendship. They taught me the graciousness of gift-giving, lavish hospitality, and the importance of properly saying goodbye to the ones you love.

My Chinese Christian friends showed me how to suffer for my faith.

I came to their land, which is now my land, as fully American—I left as part Chinese.

In the great land of China, I came to know my God. Seeing him through the eyes of Buddhists, idol worshippers, atheists, Muslims, and an animist gave me an awe for the beauty of the God I worship. Living in the crucible of China, I came to know his great love for us and the power he uses on our behalf. Being stripped of the safety zones in live, I learned to pray and to trust the Lord; being stripped of pat answer, I came to know his Word.

The book is written in a simple, straightforward manner. It struck me as a cross between a newspaper article reporting the facts and reading someone’s journal. While perhaps not the best written book, I found the stories interesting. They dovetailed with what I have heard from other missionaries over the years.

I received an e-copy of the book from the author for the purpose of review. The opinions I share are my own.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Books, Missions, Quotes

 

Risking it all on blind trust

Book Review: Fatal Trust: A Novel, by Todd M. Johnson

Fatal Trust is the latest novel from the imagination of Todd M. Johnson. It is a well written, fast paced legal thriller about a lawyer in Minneapolis. The author begins with the final scene in the drama but then leaves the reader hanging at the end of the chapter. He then jumps back in time to lay out the foundation for the story and continues to build the tension towards the climax.

The book is focused on Ian Wells, a young, ambitious Minneapolis attorney who is struggling with building his legal practice while also caring for his mother who has Alzheimer’s. As his stress is building, he is presented with a simple, but unique new case. A client asks him to evaluate whether three men qualify to receive the proceeds of a nine million dollar trust by determining if any have been involved in criminal activity during the past 20 years. Ian’s fee for a week of work will be $200,000.

While the job seems too good to be true, Ian wants to turn the offer down. However, he desperately needs the money. Along the way, he gets pulled into a mystery linking the trust funds to a spectacular unsolved crime in Minnesota history. Ian soon finds himself caught between his clients and the U. S. Attorney’s Office and his simple job is now threatening his life.

Outside of Ian’s legal assistant who sings “Amazing Grace” while she is scared or under stress, the book has no discernable Christian content. It is simply an enjoyable, entertaining story.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Bethany House through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse/bookreviewers. 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 August 3, 2017 in Books

 

Don’t settle for a perfect family

Book Review: When Parenting Isn’t Perfect, by Jim Daly with Paul Asay

Jim Daly’s latest book, When Parenting Isn’t Perfect, is one of the more encouraging books I have read on the subject. It is helpful by virtue of the fact that it is real and honest. The very first chapter, “Not good enough,” sets the tone for the book.

How easily we all slip into the trap of thinking that we’re working toward perfection. We put so much pressure on ourselves and our families, even though that very pressure conflicts with what Jesus talked about during his days on earth. We try so hard to be righteous on our own when Jesus has already told us, You’re not going to make it. That’s why I died for you.

Rather than writing a book spelling out the perfect formula for the perfect family, the author writes about “finding the beauty in imperfection—and how that beauty reflects God’s own relationship with us. I write about avoiding dysfunction while embracing the occasional family mess.”

The book is divided into four parts with three chapters in each section. Part 1 asks the question, “How good is good enough?” Part 2 explores the concept of building a better family with opposites and messiness. Part 3 explores troubleshooting, including avoiding blame and allowing kids to make mistakes. Part 4 stresses the importance of making memories together.

The author is open and honest about his strengths and failures as a husband and a father. He shares both his victories and his defeats in both arenas. As a result, we can easily identify with him and learn from him.

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 July 18, 2017 in Books, Parenting, Quotes

 

Let God’s wisdom guide your life

Book Review: The Wisdom of God: Letting His Truth and Goodness Direct Your Steps, by A. W. Tozer, compiled and edited by James L. Snyder

“Why is it that man, with drastically limited wisdom, insists on making all the decisions in his life while a good portion of the time he is wrong?” This question lies at the heart of A. W. Tozer’s book, The Wisdom of God: Letting His Truth and Goodness Direct Your Steps. Author James L. Snyder combed through 400 never-before-published audiotapes of Tozer’s sermons to compile this material on the subject of wisdom.

Tozer believed that far too often, we settle for man’s wisdom. In contrast, he presents the idea that we need to seek an “afflatus,” literally a breath, an inspiration of divine wisdom to invade our lives. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, making God’s wisdom a reality in their life.

The opening chapters describe the Hebrew idea of wisdom and demonstrate that wisdom is ultimately found in Jesus Christ.

Comparing these passages (Proverbs 9:1-4 and Matthew 22:1-4), it is almost word-for-word from the book of Proverbs. This indicates that the Lord Jesus Christ literally was the incarnation and the fulfillment of this voice of wisdom carried out to the sons of men. He is not only the Lord and head of the church; He is that, but that is not all. He is not only the coming King of kings and King of the world; He is that, but that is not all.

He is the Enlightener, the Illuminator, the Quickener, the Anointer. In every way, he is the absolute incarnation of wisdom as defined by the Hebrew doctrine of wisdom.

Tozer demonstrates that wisdom is not merely a philosophical concept, but also a practical tool for living the best possible life. Some of the chapters deal with important topics such as overcoming temptation, seeing and appreciating God’s hand in everything, and how not to be double-minded but fully committed to God.

Fans of A. W. Tozer will appreciate this volume.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Bethany House through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse/bookreviewers. 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 10, 2017 in A. W. Tozer, Books, Quotes, Theology