Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Book Review: Get Weird by C.J. Casciotta

Posted: December 11, 2018 in books

Before I begin this review, I am required to mention that I received this book for free in exchange for review on my blog and other channels like this one. Now that that is out of the way, let me tell you why I loved this book. First and foremost, that title just grabbed my attention. Get weird! But this is not just about weird for weird’s sake. There is, in my not-so humble opinion, too much of that going on in the arts. Rather the author speaks of the “Sacred Weird” and embracing the ways that we are created unique and different, rather than settling for the conformity of what the author labels “Same.” Casciotta gives real world examples from his life as well as stories from the lives of some of our most creative innovators in a variety of areas of life. People from Martin Luther, through Martin Luther King.

I read a lot of books in a year, and I often share them with others. I may buy another copy to share, but this one is staying close to home as I am planning refer to it often. Casciotta sums up the story in this line from near the end of the book. “imagine a world where we all loved what made us different, instead of succumbing to a constant barrage of comparison and conformity.” Amen to that.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a book that will inspire creatives for years to come and ignite or reignite the creative spark in us all.


This is another of those “paid” review books (they give me the book) that I get from time to time and they require me to say that at the beginning of my review. That being said, I only agree to review books that I think might be helpful to my readers and this books is no exception. I will admit I had an ulterior motive for selecting this one. I am definitely not the target market for this book. Mandy Hale is known as The Single Woman on her social media and blogs. I am kind of the opposite of that, The Married Man if you will. I selected the book because it has a similar title to mine (I’d love to have you read that one too).

I wanted to see how Ms. Hale arrived at being enough and I was not disappointed. This book is vulnerable, at times rawly so. She is so honest with her struggles and her journey in the battle to realize she is enough, but it’s more than that, she helps her reader to understand what it means to be enough. While I was clearly not the target of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. She shares her story poignantly and yet helpfully. This book is more than just a memoir. She deals honestly with her struggles with depression, stories of being lost and found and through it all finding “enoughness.” If you have ever struggled with anxiety, depression or just wondering whether or not you are enough, this book is for you. It’s a quick read, and I found it helpful. I think you will too.

So at the beginning of the month, I started in on NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. I am writing my first work of fiction, a Christian youth/young adult novel about a boy who is largely an outcast with a passion and a talent for art, no it’s not an autobiography, though there might be a little bit of Dave in Max. I’m really excited about it. NaNoWriMo is essentially a challenge to finish a 50,000 word novel or at least the first draft of it, in the 30 days of November.

I was going great guns up to about 25,000 words, then I hit a snag. Well it wasn’t really a snag, but I got really busy. I’ve been helping my son create a theater set for a community theater and I am a pastor at one of the busiest times of the year, not to mention working on my masters. Bottom line, I’m about 10,000 words behind and there’s a good chance I won’t finish by the end of November. What should I do? Well there was a time where that would mean I would give up, but the truth is, I’m really happy with how this project is coming together. The other alternative (the one that I am doing by the way) is to press on, doing what I can, while finishing my other projects. I may not be able to finish a novel in a month, but I felt led by God to do it, and I will finish it and, with God’s help, I will publish it.

For most of my life writing a book seemed to be an unattainable goal, until I did it. Likewise a novel seemed the same way, but half way through I am finding it a lot of fun. To finish in a month, I’d need to do just over 1600 words a day, but the truth of the matter is at a rate of 500 words a day, a feat almost anyone can do, I can finish in just under three months. Bottom line, I really want to finish it, and I will, but at the end of the day, getting behind on a self-imposed deadline is less important than serving my church and serving my son. It’s okay to fall behind on projects for something more important, that’s called priorities. It’s just not okay to quit. Keep at it.

This book was sent to me for free by the publisher for review. It was listed as a creativity book, so I asked them to send it to me, I was a little surprised to see it was a coloring journal, but I have to say it is very nicely done. It has a Scripture for meditation on most of the two page spreads surrounded by beautifully drawn coloring illustrations. The opposing page has a smaller coloring image and some lines to write your thoughts. There are also some illustrated pages without quotes just for coloring fun. I could see this book working very nicely for daily devotions or possibly with a church coloring group. It’s a hard cover book with really good quality paper stock which will lend itself well to a variety of coloring media.

Gina Graham has done a beautiful job with this journal. If this kind of thing is something you might enjoy doing, check it out.

I got this book as a free review copy from the publishing company. I guess that technically makes it a paid review, but truth be known, I am just grateful to have read this excellent book. I am prepared to say that every person in ministry should read this book. John W. Gray III is an associate pastor of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church as well as the senior pastor of Relentless Church in South Carolina. His success is notable, but he starts this book talking about how while he was rising to the top and speaking all over the world, his marriage was falling apart. With his priorities out of whack, the man the world knew was very different from the man his family knew.

The subtitle of this book says it all. Finding yourself by facing yourself. By paralleling his own story, with the story of Jacob from Genesis, Gray succeeds at writing a book that is both inspiring and immensely convicting. This book was challenging on every page and had me checking myself. You see, you don’t have to be preaching at one of the largest churches in the world to find yourself getting out of alignment with the will of God and while I don’t think I have strayed too far, I do feel that God gave me this book for such a time as this. If you are in any form of leadership, you really should read this book.

I have to say, I got this book for free through Pastor Resources. I requested a copy because I have seen Brian Houston several times and have thoroughly enjoyed his insights. If you’re not familiar, Houston is the founding pastor of Hillsong Church. This book did not disappoint. In the book Houston speaks of “more”. Not more as in possessions, or accomplishment, but in more of God and His plan and purpose for your life. This book is excessively encouraging (which I think is a great thing!). Houston weaves stories from his life and past into a thoroughly biblical look at what it means to have more of the God who is able to exceedingly more than we can think, ask or imagine.

If you are feeling in need of encouragement, read this book. If you are feeling a little stagnate in your Spiritual growth, read this book. If you look at life and sometimes feel lime there has got to be more… there really is, so read this book.

It started with a question between a father and a son,the son asking why the church needed smoke machines in worship. This question led to one of the most honest explorations of worship I have read. Manuel Luz is a true artist, musician, worship leader, etc. and he delves deep into what it means to worship from the depth of one’s soul. He’s not advocating for a style of worship, nor does he denigrate any type of worship. Rather, Luz looks at the heart of the worshipper connecting with the heart of God in ways that are both God-honoring and authentic. This is a fantastic book that I would recommend to anyone involved in worship, from the worshippers in the pews to those responsible for leading people into worship. I have read quite a few books on worship and this one is the best by far. Go out and pick this one up. You will not be disappointed.