Archive for the ‘books’ Category


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will realize that offense is a huge problem in our society, with people seeming to go out of their way to look for things by which to be offended. I bought this book for research on a series of messages on offense and being offended. I was not disappointed. Brant Hansen directs the idea that we have a right to be angry, and as much as we may want to kick against that idea, he’s right. This book combines real life examples, biblical teaching and some of the most challenging ideas on this topic I have ever seen. This book should be a mega best seller because every man, woman and child on the face of the earth should read it and the world would be a MUCH better place if they did.

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Okay let me start with a confession. I am a big fan of Torry Martin. I bought his book Of Moose and Men when we were both speaking at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference here in PA last year and I was hooked. This book is a sampler of several of the chapters from that book and his current book Call of the Mild, after reading this book, I can’t wait to pick that one up. Look, Torry is hilarious! He’s also a very interesting person who’s lived an interesting life. These stories are part memoir, part comedy with a little bit of devotional pulled in for good measure. If you’ve never read Torry’s stuff, pick this up, you can read it in an hour or two. After reading these stories you’ll want to pick up both of the full length books. This is great, uplifting material that will put a smile on your face and bless you, and who couldn’t use that?


I’m working on a video clip for a great camp I do in New York each year for adults with special needs, called Haven Camp. Our theme is Enough. based on my book which oddly enough is based on the theme for this camp. I wrote a sort of rap for the soundtrack. Don’t worry Snoop Dog has nothing to worry about. It’s called I Am Enough. Here’s a sneak preview.


It happens on a fairly regular basis, and I’m not usually what one would consider a hot-head, but I read things and I hear things especially on social media and I just want to explode. Now to be clear, there’s a lot out there to be frustrated about, but that’s not the guy I want to be. There are times where I just think I want to bail on the whole thing, but then I remember all the wonderful stuff that can happen as I keep up with my friends from all over the world. The other issue is I try to deliberately live by a double standard. That is I hold one standard for unbeliever and another for believers. When I see someone who does not profess faith in Christ posting something objectionable, I can usually let it slide. We’re coming at things from a decidedly different world view, I remember when I had a decidedly different world view, and I try to show grace, okay I sometimes fail, but I try.

Believers though, well that’s a different story. We should know better. We have God’s Word and we express faith in God and so often I see people, believers, even church leaders, post things that make me want to say, “What Bible did you read that in, because that page must be missing in mine?” I have to admit I probably have far too little patience for this kind of behavior and sometimes I get a little hot under the collar, sometimes I even want to go a little thermonuclear on them. the thing is thermonuclear is not an option.

The truth is if I blow up, and I confess I have, what do I accomplish? Well first of all, the people I want to blow up on, will just dig in and become more entrenched in what they think. Secondly, all those people who I love who do not yet believe will see one more example of Christians fighting among themselves, something they want no part of. If I am part of something that keeps someone from coming to a faith I believe everyone desperately needs, I am no longer part of the solution. I am part of the problem. God forbid!

I loved the passage I read in my study for my next sermon this morning from R.T. Kendal’s book on The Sermon on the Mount. Kendal writes, “Do you want to know the will of God? Read the Bible! That is the best, most God-honoring way to know His will. It is caring enough about Him to read what He has said.” This is how I desperately want to live my life. I want to honor God by doing what He says in His Word. I believe it is among many other things a guidebook for how to live a God-honoring life. That being the case, it takes the thermonuclear option off the table. Instead I need to do thing like love my neighbor and even my enemies. Jesus tells us people will know we belong to Him by the way we love one another. This means all of us who claim the name of Jesus need to love each other because the world is watching. Is there still room for healthy debate? Yes, though I would argue, we have to be careful where and when and we get one of the best guidelines from Paul in Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

When it comes to disagreements, especially public ones, this much is clear.

“No Nukes.”


I got this book as a review copy from the publisher, in exchange for a review on my blog, AMOKArts.com. They are now requiring that I add the hashtag #ad to my reviews, and while I fundamentally disagree with this policy, because I don’t review these books to advertise them, I look for books that might be useful to my audience and share them as potential resources. That being said I will honor their policy.

I spent most of this book wondering how I would review it, because at times I really didn’t like what was said very much. That being said, there were many times when I had to stop and realize I was being judgmental and not putting myself in the author’s shoes. I chose to review this book because it dealt with business and this is an area my audience needs to at least consider, i.e. ministry in the marketplace. It’s the story of Dollar General Stores and the men who founded them. It’s the story of a company that goes from a small town family store to become a billion dollar company and it is downright fascinating most of the time. Interestingly as the company grows and changes from family company to publicly traded business is where it lost most of it’s luster for me. I think the reason for this is simple, all of the sudden the author has to do things like fire family members, etc. There was part of me that understood the responsibility to stockholders that required theses kinds of things to happen, and part of me that felt it was cold and heartless. At first I really wanted to lash out at the author, but then I realized the problem may have been with me, judging someone whose shoes I have never had to walk in.

Over all this is an interesting book. I am glad I read it as much for learning things I do not want to do as things I do. Turner challenged me at times and at times even made me angry. Like the time where he got grief for opening his stores on Sunday from a pastor, and turned it around on the pastor that clearly he wasn’t teaching his people well enough to get them to stop shopping on Sunday. I am a pastor, and while I can’t condemn someone for shopping on Sunday, I thought it was an extremely short sighted statement from someone who at one point felt the call to ministry. Of course about the time I was starting to get really incensed, Turner talks about how bad he felt about making such a statement. Ultimately, I think this book was a little too far removed from my life experience for me to relate to, and yet it exposed me to a different world and for that I am grateful. There’s a certain fascinating irony to the fact that people can become very wealthy, by deliberately creating stores designed to serve the less fortunate to bringing them necessities at low prices.

In the final chapter, Turner tells us his hope for the book and it was here that he really helped me to solidify this review. He writes, “My motive in this book has been to examine my father’s business and make sense of it in a way that might invite you to do the same—so that you make help others do the same in turn. It’s part of loving others as ourselves.” If that was his goal, I believe Cal Turner Jr. achieved his goal.


I was on vacation, and it was a very relaxing time, lots of time to kick back and read. I read Matt Tommey’s Created to Thrive, and it was so good that I went to his Amazon page to see what else he had. I of course knew of this book, but somehow, I had not read it, so I picked it up. Once again I read this book in a very short period of time, about two days, and once again, it is that good. In this really phenomenal book, Matt gives us an exploration of our call as artists in the Kingdom of God. It also provides a primer of sorts for involving the Holy Spirit in our creativity. It all comes down to the idea that we have the immense privilege of collaborating with God.

In this book Matt reveals a level of transparency as he shares his own personal stories of both struggle and success. This is definitely not the work of a theoretician. This is a book from someone who has worked diligently at both his craft and his faith. I came away from this book once again feeling immensely inspired. This is both a great read and an important book.


I got this book just before vacation and had such a great experience with it, that I read it in two days and downloaded two more of Matt Tommey’s books. The book was not exactly what I expected. I expected it to be more about art. What it really was, was a book about how we artists can thrive in our lives as children of God and, as a result, in every aspect of our lives. The book goes beyond just making art, to making the art we were designed and created to create. This is book is in and of itself an awesome inspiring work of art that made me imagine new possibilities and inspired new idea and dreams. I can’t wait to see all that God is going to do. This is one of those books that I will return to over again. I recommend this to every believing artist and pretty much everyone else. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.