Archive for the ‘books’ Category


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.

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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.


As I consider The Imaginative Church, I decided to do a word search on Biblegateway.com to see how the word imagination is used in the Bible. Surprisingly, it doesn’t fare very well. It only appears four times in the NIV translation of the Bible and every single time it appears, it’s in a negative context.

Psalm 73:7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits.

Isaiah 65:2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—

Ezekiel 13:2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord!

Ezekiel 13:17 “Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them

That’s a little depressing and maybe even off putting when you’re trying to encourage people in the church to empower and embrace their imaginations. Please understand the above verses are not what I want you to embrace—not by a long shot.

Instead I want to look at the aforementioned Abraham, who chose to look past the impossibility of what God had foretold, choosing instead to believe God to be able to overcome impossible, or David using his faith and examples of God’s faithfulness, to look past an imposing giant, to a better the better reality that stood on the other side of victory, or a young virgin who looked an angel in the eye and said, may it be to me as you have said. The way I am using imagination is in this way—Where we look past the seeming realities of our world to trust in the faithfulness of our God to overcome the obstacles and do our part in bringing forth the Church that God desires to bring forth. It’s not imagination for imagination’s sake. It’s letting God show us the possibilities when things look impossible. It’s letting God use us as He calls into being that which is currently not (Romans 4:17)

This is not about vain imaginations. It’s about seeking the heart of God and the Mind of Christ. Let God inspire your imagination. Breathe in (the literal interpretation of the word “inspire”) the vision God is wanting to bring to life in you. Then step out in faith, and in Him, to bring it to reality.

This will require us to really seek God. It will require us to do as Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 10:5. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. It involves submission to God and to His Word, immense amounts of prayer and a full dependence on the God for whom all things are possible.

Imagination is essential to Christians. One of the most popular Christian songs of all times is I Can Only Imagine. The song reminds us of something essential to faith. Our ultimate hope is in Christ and the eternal life He bought for us with His blood. It is a place that is far from imaginary. It is in many ways the most real place there is. We see it described in Scripture, but the only way we can see it on this side of the grave is in our imaginations. We live this life in hopes of a world we can only imagine, trusting God to get us there. Let’s let God use that same imagination to help us imagine a church that will draw people to Him and ultimately to that place we can only imagine.


I’m sure when Hilary Yancey wrote this book she was probably not thinking, “I hope a lot of fifty something men read it.” but I did. To be honest, I picked up the book because of it’s title. Her publisher offered it to me as a blogger for review and so here it is. The title is something I have been dealing with in my speaking ministry for quite some time. The idea that there are people out there who need to forgive the perfect, sinless, God. Hilary Yancey explores this concept in ways far beyond what I considered and she does so masterfully. I really can’t bring myself to say I liked this book. The subject matter is such that that would make me seem cold and heartless, as you’ll see in a moment. What I will say instead is that I am really glad that I read this important book, and I highly recommend it, because it will challenge your thinking in ways I had not even considered.

Hilary Yancey writes this book around her pregnancy and the subsequent birth of her son Jackson. You see Jackson was born with cleft lip/palate, only one eye and one ear, needing a tracheotomy and a g button. She deals with her prayer life, her struggles when her prayers for a miracle went, in a sense, unanswered. She deals realistically with the struggle when God doesn’t do things the way we think He should. Further she deals with her son and his “different kind of normal.” She is a doctoral candidate in the area of philosophy and this really comes through in her writing, yet the book is very readable and accessible. She has challenged my thinking on so many subjects, from disability to God and I honestly feel like I am a little bit better as a person for having read this book.