Archive for the ‘books’ Category

The Little Things is another moment of brilliance from Andy Andrews. This man may be my favorite writer and this book does not disappoint. Most books in this genre tell us to look at the big picture. Andrews focuses on small things that make a big difference. Small choice that yield amazing results. His chapter on offense and tolerance alone was worth the price of the book. Working through true stories from his personal experiences as well as other great people throughout history, Andrews weaves a compelling book that will no doubt do some real good in this world. This is a man who describes himself as a noticer and taking to heart the things that he notices could yield serious results in your life. I could not recommend this book any higher. It is a must read for anyone breathing or at least anyone who wants to lead a blessed and fruitful life.

I just started reading Andy Andrews latest book, The Little Things and I was wondering if anyone would like to join me as we read it together and share thoughts back and forth. I am of the belief that he is one of the great thinkers of out time and this book is no exception. I’d love to share this journey with a couple people. Any takers?

If you’re like a lot of people, you might be scratching your head and saying “Who is Bezalel?” If you’re a Christian artist, you probably already know. I’m reading a great little book about Bezalel right now from author Christ John Otto and it is an eye opener. Throughout scripture there are several people that were said to be filled with the Spirit, but the first of them was Bezalel. Why was he filled with the Spirit? To make art! Bezalel is the second artist mentioned in the Bible. The first, of course, is God. Bezalel was filled with the Spirit so he would be able to do the work of creating and constructing all the beautiful things that made up the Tabernacle. It was a momentous task.

I was really interested to learn what Bezalel’s name means. In Hebrew, Bezalel means Image of God. He is also the son of Uri, which means light. His name literally means Image of God son of the light. And so it is with all God calls to create in His name. We get this privilege of a kind of mini-incarnation. We get to call into being things that were not. We get to make the invisible, visible so that others can see it and understand. We are given the privilege of of creating, and while our creations pale in comparison to the things our Father creates, we at least get to help to inspire people and help them to understand. We are sons and daughters of the light because we are children of God and we are called to reflect his light into the dark corners of our world. Like Bezalel we need to create that which God inspires as closely as we are physically (and in Him) able, to that inspiration. If we are faithful in this God will use us and our efforts mightily. God is good and so must we be and do good as we create with all that we have to His glory. Bezalel modeled that for us all. One could argue He created a physical manifestation of the throne room of heaven. His work a literal interpretation of what our Lord taught us to pray, “on earth as it is in heaven.” May we do the same with our work.

Let’s be Bezalel. Images of God, children of light.

Let me start here. I love the Bible. I have read it through like a novel (cover to cover) several times and have also done a few Bible reading plans. This should come as no surprise to people who know me because I am a minister. That being said, I also know that for many people, reading the Bible is a daunting task. Let’s start with the obvious. It’s a huge book. It’s a collection of books written over a long period of time, the books are not chronological and there are a few points where novice readers get stuck, such as Leviticus, the instructions on the Tabernacle. etc. This often causes them to give up.

Enter The Story. The folks who compiled it did a masterful job of making this sort of Scripture collage urning the Bible into one unified story. Composed of actual verses from the NIV Bible with the occasional narration (Set in a different font to avoid confusion) to move the story along, this book would give a novice reader a really nice handle on “the greatest story ever told” and as such I highly recommend it. There are also study questions for each chapter to take the reader even deeper.

Now just to be clear this is not a Bible not should it replace reading the actual Bible, but if you’ve ever been stuck trying to read through the Scriptures or if you’re confused about how and when things happened, this book is for you. Also if you have someone in your life who is curious about Christ, faith and the Bible, this would be a nice way to introduce them to the Lord. I thoroughly reading this in my devotions for the last month or so. I highly recommend this.

I’m a pretty voracious reader, or at least I can be. That being said I am also a very busy person at times, so my odds of reading a book in three or four days are pretty slim. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what I did with this book-The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

My wife Dawn had read it, and no surprises, she loved it and she asked me to read it. I said I would and she seemed to think I probably wouldn’t, at least not any time soon. Now truth be known, I would have gotten to it, but I did have a few other books in my cue. Hearing the disappointment in her voice made me move it to the front of the line. I am so glad I did.

You see the thing is, I’m not really Chip and JoJo’s target market. For as much as I’m into the arts, interior design and home renovation rank very low in my skill set. That being said, I really enjoy their show, Fixer Upper. I really love Joanna’s style and the finished results are really stunning, always a great blessing, but it’s more than that, I genuinely enjoy these two people. They are fun to watch, they have great chemistry and their faith and their love for each other comes shining through. This is a couple that makes it work.

Having read their book, I will no doubt enjoy them much more. It is written in a unique style, much like in the asides in their show, Where Joanna “speaks” and Chip adds commentary, or Chip “speaks” and Joanna adds commentary. This is captured as each one has their own font. I loved how this was set up and it really added a familiar element tying the show and the book together. Their story is amazing. More than a story of how opposites attract, this is a story of two people God brought together who genuinely complete each other. It is a story of a rocky road that led to a pretty awesome life. No I didn’t quite say that right. This book shows how you can have an awesome life on the rocky road on the way to an even more awesome life.

One of the defining moments in the book is when Joanna is faced with a dilemma. In the midst of a pretty major trial, she has to make a decision. Is she going to thrive or just survive? She then goes on to illustrate how thriving is as much a mindset and a choice as anything. How will we choose to face the trials? This story challenged me to think differently about a lot of the things that occur in this creative life, my marriage, and a lot of what I do.

I loved this book and I know you will too. I’m sensing a trip to Waco in my future.

I think most of us have had days where God feels distant. I am also a firm believer in that old saying that says when God feels far away, it’s not Him who moved, so I was more than a little intrigued when this was offered for review from FaithWords. I have had these times here and there, usually in the midst of busyness and some of the disappointments that have happened all the years. I decided to request the book.

First off let me say I wasn’t sure I would like the book. While the overriding theme was one I knew hit home, I also knew there would be difficulties. First of all, it’s a devotional style book. I don’t usually do devotionals. I don’t have a problem with devotionals, but my usual devotional reading is straight from the Scriptures so this would be a stretch. Secondly, I knew I would not have 40 days to devote to this reading. I usually try to post my reviews within two weeks of receiving a review copy. The most telling reason I thought I might struggle was because of how little I have in common with the author. She is a young woman, I am an old(er man). She is a fairly new parent, my kids are grown and I’m a fairly new grandparent, so we’re at vastly different stages of life, lastly while we are both Christian, her Anglican faith tradition is far different than mine. Even with all these differences (I’m probably nowhere near her target market), I have to say, I really enjoyed this book.

The idea behind Attend, is pretty well summed up in the sub-title of the book: Forty Soul Stretches Toward God. You’ve no doubt at one time or another asked someone to pay attention. That’s what it means to attend and Davis-Werezak approach here is to help us give God our attention through a series of 40 disciplines and practices designed to redirect our focus. While many of these are obvious, she takes them beyond surface level and helps the reader to go deep. As you read this book, it becomes really clear that these “stretches” were born out of a real-life struggle to come into a stronger, better relationship with God. Her faith perspective and frequent references to the Book of Common Prayers, really intrigued me and made me think perhaps there is something to a more contemplative approach to faith and devotion.

This book was a strong effort that I really enjoyed. I think I am going to keep this on on my shelf for a slower time when I can do the “stretches” day by day. It’s clear this book could help a lot of people in this world where a million things are constantly competing for our attention. This is a well-written book that I really recommend.

I’ve been reading a lot this year and it’s been mainly pretty heady stuff. Theology books, commentaries and more. It’s been great but I am the kind of person who also needs a release at times, so I used my Amazon Prime membership to get a free book. It was described as a dark comedy about the end of the world. Well since I had just finished reading a commentary on the book of Revelation, I decided to give it a go.

Now to start off, I just want to say, I was under no illusions that this would be a Christian book or deal with anything having to do with eschatology. I was just looking for a little escapism. I have to say the book was not bad. It had a real Monty Python feel humor-wise with a lot of action and such intermingled in the silliness. All in all it was a fun read, but…

In the midst of what could have been an excellent book I would recommend to my readers was a bit too much profanity for my tastes. I’m not a prude, and the swearing did give insight into the character’s well character, but the writers is good enough not to have had to lean on that crutch. All I could think of was, “Why did you have to do that?”

Secondly, there were several scenes where the writer crossed the line in my opinion. I was fully aware of how evil this one particular villain was. The writer had done a great job setting up who this character was and the comments and actions this character took were totally unnecessary. Not only did they not advance the story, they detracted from it in big ways. All I could think of was “Why did you have to do that?”

Now listen, I know I am sensitive to these things and I never want to be unnecessarily critical, but the fact of the matter is our creative choices impact our creations. You notice that I did not post the title of this book or a link to it? That was deliberate. The truth of the matter is this book was a well written piece of satire with a pretty touching ending and a fair amount of good action. That being said I can’t recommend it to my audience because of a few bad choices on the part of the author. That’s a shame.

As we create, we need to try to make good choices. This is not just avoiding gratuitous sex and violence though that is important, especially for us as followers of Christ. It could also be making matters of faith too simplistic or portraying people negatively needlessly. We can do better and we must.

Let’s not make our audiences say, “Why did you have to do that?”