COULD WE BE GETTING JESUS WRONG? (REVIEW)

Getting-Jesus-Wrong-smCould we be getting Jesus wrong? Author Matt Johnson thinks so, he’s done it. He offers a compelling read simply entitled Getting Jesus Wrong: Giving Up Spiritual Vitamins and Checklist Christianity. Matt offers several ways that Christians in America misunderstand Jesus. The first several chapters cover different ways that we have reimagined Jesus to be something more of a life coach, a visionary, a keeper of the checklist, etc. Through it all Matt is very transparent with his own struggles of how at different times he had different false images of Jesus in his mind. I appreciate this introspective look very much and Matt comes off as very approachable so when he turns his attention to the remedy the reader is willing to hear and weigh what Matt has to say.

This second part of the book from a pastoral perspective is golden because Matt simply comes back to the gospel. He reorients the reader to the simple facts of law, grace, and redemption through Jesus offering a better way forward in following Jesus than some of the false impressions he had tried earlier.

Over all I thought it was a great read. I enthusiastically recommend it as a brief look into the modern church and how if we are not careful we can lead folks astray. I really appreciate Matt and his heart in writing. You can find it on Amazon for a reasonable price, here.

An similar book written from a different pastoral perspective is Made in Our Image  by Steve Lawson.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an electronic copy of this book free from LitFuseGroup.com as part of their Blog Tour Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission from Amazon. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Intentional Living by John Maxwell (A REVIEW)

Intentional LivingI’ve not always been a John Maxwell fan, but his more recent books are really good. This book, Intentional Living, is by far one of his best. Maxwell is older than I am and typically is read better in my parents generation. With this book though, his focus has changed and he comes across as more approachable. He shares stories and details of his life creating a brilliant synthesis of autobiography and life principles.

Maxwell also offers a seven day online video encouragement course (for Free) that pairs quite nicely with this book. He shares a brief (usually 5 min or less) message and then issues a challenge (that usually takes less than 10 minutes to complete). It’s a great course that complements and extends the value of the book. To be sure though it also leads into a 30 day course that costs to participate. Nothing wrong with the cost of the 30 day course, my guess is that you are more likely to complete it if you paid something for it.

Over all I thought that, Intentional Living, was a great read and well worth the time it takes to read it. If you had to pick one John Maxwell book to read, I’d say pick this one. In the mean time check out some of my other reviews of John Maxwell’s books.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Rediscovering Discipelship (REVIEW)

rediscovering discipleship

REDISCOVERING DISCIPLESHIP by Robby F. Gallaty is a brief (237 pages) and compelling book on discipleship. The book is full of keen insight and significant observations about the modern church and the state of discipleship. Gallaty is fluid writer and this work is very easy to read. I blew through the first 100 pages in one sitting.

This book comes highly recommended by lots of folks within the evangelical circle. The first two pages of the book are littered with endorsements. What is perhaps more telling is whose endorsement is NOT there. Robby refers to David Platt as his Pastor, mentor, and discipler a couple of places in this book. Gallaty even states that at one point he had a one on one discipleship relationship with David. Which begs the question… why is there no endorsement from Platt?

There are also a few places where the book seems in contradiction with itself. In one chapter the author quotes and seems to endorse a pastor in the Philippines who puts new believers to work discipling new believers. Then in another chapter he quotes and seems to endorse a pastor in the United States as leading someone to the Lord and sending him home from seminary to be discipled, stating that he needed to be discipled before he could disciple others. Perhaps this is a tension that can be resolved with explanation but on the surface it looks contradictory.

Overall I thought it was a good book with some relevant points about discipleship. I think the author is passionate but did not come across as authoritative.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Curse of Crow’s Hollow (REVIEW)

curse of crows hollowI’m a big fan of Billy Coffee! He has a fantastic sense with words that states the most profound truths in both an obvious and poetic way. I usually don’t underline quotes out of a fiction book, but I do with a Billy Coffee book because of his profound skill as a writer. I was really impressed with THE CURSE OF CROW HOLLOW. To be honest it was a slow start for me, but once I got into the book, I couldn’t put it down. Billy has a way of making the characters become so familiar and real; each one manifesting a reality that he wants to address in his fiction.

As the narrative was unfolding I kept guessing at the mysteries wondering, is this natural or supernatural. Billy does a great job at holding the tension between the two until the big reveal at the end. The reveal at the end of this story was quite good and paradigm shifting (much like watching the movie the 6th sense for the first time). It makes you want to go back and read it all over again. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in great southern fiction.

The questions at the end are also great discussion questions for a book club, etc.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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What’s Best Next? (REVIEW)

_225_350_Book.1237.cover It is easy for me to focus simply on getting things done. I’ve read tons of productivity books, dialed in on TED talks and read tons of blog posts to learn tips and tidbits on productivity. The real jewel to this book, “What’s best next” by Matt Perman, is that it focuses on what’s EFFECTIVE. You can be busy doing stuff, but the key is being effective at what you do.To be sure there are tons of suggestions, ideas and tips, but the key is answering the question, “what is effective?”

Matt surprises you in how he helps you answer that question. He takes a steady aim at making the gospel central to everything, especially how we view effectiveness. He is a compelling and gifted writer who has studied and applied what he has learned. I’m thrilled to be able to learn from the overflow.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to be more productive/ effective at what they do. It’s a good read for Christian business men, pastors, and leaders of all sorts.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher as part of their Reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Feminist Lesbian Professor Renounces Lifestyle and Comes Out as a Christian

the secret thoughts of an unlikely convert Imagine a feminist lesbian english professor who has lived in a committed lesbian relationship for over ten years, hosted various LBGT regional events not to mention smaller LBGT local community gatherings, and is the current faculty adviser for LBGT students… “coming out” in a public speech as a “Christian.” Furthermore imagine that since she is an English professor that she has actually attempted to read the bible with literary integrity and she has come to realize that she must renounce everything she has known to be remade in the image of Christ. Imagine the cost. Imagine the agony. Imagine how people at church might look at her. Then imagine that she somehow is now happily married to a man who happens to be a pastor and is a home school mom to several children who happen to be adopted….Then imagine no more for this is the very real and very raw story of  Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. It is the true life story that she shares in her memoir “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”

Mrs. Butterfield is a fantastic writer and offers a very candid look at her thoughts and emotions as she seemingly betrayed her community to become an awkward outsider in the church. She shares about the elderly pastor and wife who offered an invitation to dinner and dialogue. She confronts the needless barriers that contemporary Christianity has placed to the gospel and shares her inner conversation as she noticed her world was changing.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is very engaging and the real life tension keeps the reader glued to the page. There are parts where Mrs. Butterfield journeys away from the tension to offer data that would have been better offered as index reading such as the entirety of her “coming out” Christian speech and the full manuscript of their wedding message. These two exceptions aside the book flows freely from tension point to tension point. Near 3/4 of the way through she leans heavily on the regulative principle and offers an apologetic for how her denomination does hymns. Had this been an issue for me (either dogmatically pro or con) It would have demanded my attention more than it did. The conclusion of the book highlights her families road to adoption and offers keen insight into what it takes to be an adoptive mom.

Over all I thought this was a great book.  I got my copy from amazon.com who has it on sale right now for $8.00 in the Kindle Edition.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, The Surprise of Judgment, The Hope of Holy War (Review)

The Skeleton in God's closet I’m a fan of The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War, Joshua Ryan Butler does a fantastic job of leading the reader on a journey exploring three of the controversial doctrines of the Bible. Butler writes to open up a dialogue with contemporary culture and it’s broadly popular misunderstanding of these key doctrines. His writing style is engaging, witty, humble and personable. He has a way of inviting his readers to investigate their own biases, what the bible really says, and how people have understood or misunderstood these doctrines in the past. This is a well written book that could easily have been turned into a shorter three book series. (You get your money’s worth).

Once you understand Butler aims his book at a postmodern mindset it comes into focus. There were a few moments where I pondered, “Why is he going here?” and “What is he about to say?” because he came seemingly close to a different understanding of a doctrinal issue. Thankfully at each point he clarifies his understanding and leads the reader to a biblical appreciation for the doctrine in question.

Over all I thought this was a great book. The author has a brilliant writing style that at times is very poetic. I purchased my copy from amazon.com who has it on sale right now for $12.84 in paperback.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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How High Will You Climb By John Maxwell (A Review)

_225_350_Book.1162.cover Attitude. That’s what How High Will You Climb?: Determine Your Success by Cultivating the Right Attitude is about…attitude. Mostly the focus in on how to have a positive attitude. That’s the real game changer according to Maxwell. The ability to face challenges, short-term defeat and the obstacles in our path with a gutsy determination that everything will be fine. John Maxwell offers two compelling lines of argument through the book. One seems to follow a biblical pattern (at least the scripture verses are fairly quoted). And the other is squarely placed in the self-help camp (He’s done some outside reading).

As with most books I review I put it through the “wait” test. For those unfamiliar, the wait test is simply this. Read the book well, then simply… wait. If what you remember was actually helpful, practical, and perhaps even relevant then it passed the test. What I came away with after reading this book was that a good attitude is better than a bad attitude. I hardly needed a book to tell me that, but this one comes across more like a pep-rally and some folks need that sort of thing.

So here is the deal, if you generally have a good attitude, you don’t need this book. However on the other hand if you are a perpetual grumpy pants you probably could benefit from reading this book (You need the pep-rally). And If you know a grumpy person, you might give them this book as a kind of inside joke, but also as an encouragement to adopt a different perspective on life. John Maxwell is a talented writer. He flirts with a few elements of the sovereignty of God in this book that I wish he would have taken all the way to their conclusions.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher as part of their Reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Before you Adopt… Know Orphans (A Review)

know orphans KnowOrphans: Mobilizing the Church for Global Orphanologyis a follow up book to Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care. Dr. Rick Morton seeks to continue to blaze a trial forward when it comes to mobilizing the church to global orphan care. In this book he addresses recent criticisms the movement has experienced and clarifies action steps that individuals and churches can take to become involved in the orphan movement. He also shares background from his own personal experience as well as advice for those who are working through an international adoption.

Know Orphans contains plenty of practical strategies of how to engage in the mission of the gospel as it concerns orphans. The scope goes well beyond adoption as Dr. Morton encourages the church and individuals to stand in the gap for various kinds of orphans. He does an excellent job of painting the picture that “not all orphans are equal” and “that each situation is unique” while at the same time providing tools and resources for the reader to become engaged.

On a personal note. I’ve had the honor of meeting Dr. Morton. He was one of my Professors for a Graduate Level Youth Ministry Seminar. While I didn’t have the opportunity to hear him speak about adoption I did have the opportunity to get a sense of him through his personal interaction with the students both in and out of class (it was a small class). His genuine concern for the Kingdom made a significant mark on me. I’m thankful for that class and I’m thankful for this book.

This is a must read for anyone interested in international adoption and a great read for anyone interested in understanding the Orphanology movement. Amazon’s got a great price on the Kindle Edition and the Paperback right now. If you haven’t already make sure you check out Orphanology.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse as part of their Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Devil Walks in Mattingly (A Review)

Devil Walks in Mattingly It’s a rare occasion for me to pick up a fiction book but I felt that it was time for a change up and I’m glad I picked this book up. The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey is an engaging read about 3 characters who are all tied to a murder of a high school boy deep in the woods. His death is ruled a suicide and life goes on for 20 years in the sleepy little town of Mattingly until a ghost starts to haunt the dreams of the local sheriff.

I don’t want to ruin any surprises or spoil anything for you, so I’ll leave it there, you can read the official book teaser over at the author’s website as well as great info about the author at Billycoffey.com . This is my first read from author Billy Coffey, but it’s his fourth book and he’s a talented writer. He has a gift for word play and can pack sentences full of meaning. He does an excellent job weaving in a gospel sub-theme that will be evident to those who are well versed in grace but may be elude those who are being confronted with grace for the very first time. I’m looking forward to catching up on some of his other books and getting his next one as it comes out.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse as part of their Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”