Archive for the ‘books’ Category

I just got finished reading Bob Goff’s latest book Dream Big, and let me tell you, nobody tells an inspirational story like Bob Goff and this book where he tries to encourage people to pursue their dreams is no exception. This is a man who has lived quite an adventure and he invites us all along on a ride. In the process, he invites us into living a better story, the story of our dreams. This is a fantastic book that provides a complete framework at the end that will spur the reader on to action. Wish I had a few more stars, because five does not seem to be near enough. READ THIS BOOK!

I’ve heard many great things about the great evangelist, D.L. Moody, but I had never read anything he had written. I am glad I have changed that. This is an amazing book. Written in the late 19th century, Moody writes with a fire and passion that is sorely lacking in many a pulpit today. We need people like this in the church today. Moody goes deep into this prophetic book with the heart of an evangelist. This book reads like a preaching master class. It’s phenomenal. My prayer is that I will be emboldened to preach with even more Holy Spirit anointed power having read this amazing work. I genuinely hope you read this book, but if I could give you one more incentive, Amazon has it for free! One of the best free books I have ever read.

I was given a review copy of this book from the publisher. It actually ended up being the third book in this series that I have read this year. While I was reading her book on Colossians, I felt led to preach through Ephesians at my church so I purchased that one as well. These are quality books with the plain spoken insights I have come to expect from Joyce Meyer. Galatians has always been an interesting book to me. It shows us the Apostle Paul taking a stand in defense of his church. Mrs. Meyer takes us into these somewhat challenging chapters not just explaining what was happening but helping the reader to see how the book of Galatians applies to our everyday life. She wisely forgoes dense theological language and gives us the simple truth, which I really appreciated. I would highly recommend these books as a resource for someone leading a Bible study or Sunday School class. Mrs. Meyer has done a great job here once again.

A short time ago I received Joyce Meyer’s Biblical Commentary on Colossians as well as her book on Galatians from the publisher for review. In the process of reviewing the book on Colossians, I felt led to preach through the book of Ephesians at my church, and since I was so pleased with her book on Colossians (I am also working through the book on Galatians as we speak) so I decided to order her book on Ephesians. I am fully aware that Mrs. Meyer gets grief from some people in the church, but I like her and have always found her refreshing. She has a plain spoken, and forgive me for saying it this way, but “No-bull” approach to presenting God’s Word. I have seen her speak “live” several times and have been duly impressed. This is the case in these books as well. She goes through these verses in order by theme and breaks them down concisely and very effectively. I found many great insights in these pages and the book will be very helpful as I go to present this series. What I love about these books, is her style. Often commentaries feel like the author wants to impress me with their huge words and dense theological terminology. Mrs. Meyer takes a different approach. She speaks the truth plainly in ways that can be clearly understood by layman and scholar alike. I would really endorse these books for anyone wanting to lead a Bible study. Each chapter contains a thought provoking reflection question that would help with application and she offers a downloadable study guide besides.

The publisher offered me a free copy of this book for review purposes and I decided to give it a shot. I’ve always found Ms. Meyer’s no-nonsense approach to the Word of God refreshing and that certainly comes through here. She breaks the book down passage by passage and gives great insights to their meaning.

As an example, when commenting on Colossians 2:2 and 3 “2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Ms. Meyer keys in on the wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ at one point and says, “Whenever you need wisdom in a situation or any time you need to know something, the answer is ‘hidden’ in Christ. It is not hidden because God does not want you to find it; it is hidden because God wants you to seek it.” Her comments are full of the plain-spoken wisdom I have come to both expect and appreciate.

I would not go so far as to call it a commentary, but there is clearly a fair amount of research happening here, as she references other texts, the Greek, etc. As a text for a church Bible study, this book would be a great guide. The book is a quick read at 180 pages but I really do feel I came away with a better understanding of Colossians. This could be a very useful resource. Check it out.

This is a fantastic book on the Holy Spirit, combining biblical teaching with testimonies from people who have seen the work in their lives. Cymbala has written a book that is encouraging and convicting at the same time. The book speaks to our need for the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, from His help in prayer and comprehending Scripture, to His power in our lives.

This is a must read especially for the season we’re in right now.

I was not entirely sure what to expect from this book, but I bought it on the recommendation of a friend, predominantly for two reasons: 1. the reputation of its author and 2. the need of information on this topic as a church leader. The book did not disappoint. Piper struck while the iron was hot as the saying goes, and I mean no disingenuousness in that statement at all. This short but ultra timely book was so amazing and well thought out. It was a real blessing to me. It holds none of the speculation, theories (conspiracy or otherwise) and there is not even a hint of politics in it’s pages. This does not surprise me because it comes from John Piper, but given the rest of the coverage corona has received, it was really refreshing. What Piper does here is what I would expect from him and what I hope people get from me as a pastor. That is, he takes us to God’s Word and shows us the purpose in the pain. He pulls no punches, but this book gives hope, and encouragement along with the tough love. This is a fantastic book. The only change I might have made was to broaden the title, here, because while it does deal with corona virus, it could deal with virtually any of the struggles we face in life. It only took me a few hours to read this book, but it was time well spent. One of the timeliest books I have ever read.

This is classic Lewis. Seven essays all thought provoking and dealing with a lot of issues that are as important as they have ever been: The efficacy of prayer, belief, culture, religion, etc. There was also another appearance of Screwtape. Probably my favorite piece was the piece on Good Work versus Good Works and how our good works must also be good work. Lewis is brilliant. Remember there is Lewis the author of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and there is Lewis the theologian/professor. They are both the same person, but the words are very different. This is, for the most part, the theologian/professor. It is not an easy read, but the brilliance is worth the effort.

Disclosure: The publisher requires me to tell you that they sent me a copy of this book for free, because I am a blogger. I will also say, I only ask for books that I am interested in reading and think might be beneficial in one aspect of my ministry or another. Such is the case with this book.

The Inquisitive Christ is a fantastic book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The book deals with twelve questions that Jesus asked of various people in Scripture. Ms. Murphy mines rich gems from these questions to help modern day readers to really examine their lives in light of Jesus’ teachings. This is a superb book. One example is Jesus asking the man at the pool if he wants to be well. What first seems like a “duh” moment (if it weren’t for the fact that it’s Jesus asking the question) really bears a deeper meaning. We all have things in our lives that we would like to change but when all is said and done, do we have the will to actually make the change and do we really want to change?

Now at times, I have read non fictions books especially ones with a theological emphasis that have been a little “dry.” Such is not the case with this book. Cara L.T. Murphy is a brilliant story teller. When she is retelling a Bible story, she walks the line of fleshing out the story without straying into adding anything that might take it out of the realm of being biblical, and she does this nearly flawlessly. I am hesitant to say that she brings the Bible to life, because I believe that the Bible is alive with no help needed from us. That being said she does make the reader feel as if they are in the room with our Lord while the events are happening. Further she tells related stories from her personal life that really add to the points she is trying to make. Her use of language feels poetic and yet highly relatable. Ms. Murphy ends each chapter with a “Lectio Divina” section that further urges the reader to put themselves in the story. I have done “Lectio Divina” numerous times but never like this. This is the first time I have found it fulfilling. Finally each chapter has a series of study questions adding to the applications the reader can make. This is a five star book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from Ms. Murphy.

A few months back I was working on a book called Failure and Other F Words. It talked about fear of failure and other such things. I hope to publish the book later this year. Before that, I wrote another book called ENOUGH. God and the Fine Art of Measuring Up. Today I realize what I am experiencing is a combination of the two. I’m afraid I don’t measure up. I think I’ve always sort of dealt with this issue, but in the midst of these days it is really manifesting. With all the uncertainty surrounding this “pandemic” it is really hard to know what to do. We cancelled services and two people didn’t get notified. Now I took a lot of steps to make sure that didn’t happen, even putting the notice on TV, but people still managed to get missed and that breaks my heart. The feelings I’m experiencing in these days are not unlike the days when I was doing publication design and the publication came out and the phone started ringing to tell me about everything I missed. Once again I am starting to feel like I don’t have what it takes. Why do I share this? Because this wreaks of something that cripples most people creatively. It’s called perfectionism and right now, it’s really hurting me. Once those feelings set in, all kinds of stuff started to happen. I was trying to figure out how to offer some services to my congregation online. It didn’t work right the first time and rather than looking for the reason why, I immediately started to think, “I don’t have what it takes to do this.” This stuff often seems to compound when I allow myself to lapse into that state.

Should I feel bad that someone got missed? Yes, I love these people and they are very important to me. All I can do at this point is try to rectify the situation. Further, an oversight does not make me incompetent or stupid. I wasn’t too stupid to make the online services work. There’s just a learning curve. Limiting beliefs limit us. The fact is, I’ve never dealt with a situation like this before and neither have most of the people I know. This is uncharted territory, but it’s even more than that. The truth is none of us has within us the capacity for perfection. To live in fear of making a mistake is to live in fear of the inevitable and that, my friend, is an empty life. These are trying times, and trying times are not limited to the length of this “pandemic.” To succeed is not to stop failing, that’s impossible. No, to succeed is to learn to fail forward. In the case of the notifications, there were some problems, Now I need to find a solution. In the case of the online services, there is a solution, now I have to do the work of learning to use it. Will it work perfectly the first time? That’s doubtful, but it will be supremely more effective than doing nothing. This is essentially true in every creative pursuit.

Let me let you in on a little secret. Failure is inevitable, especially as you move into the realm of trying new things. Very few people can do something perfectly the first time and that difficulty is amplified in pressure situations. Try, fail and try again. Now all I have to do is live like I believe this in this stressful time. Please know this, I am praying for you.  God is good and we will get through this.