The Secrets of Happy Families

SecretsThe Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More by Bruce Feiler is an easy to read, engaging, and timely book all about families. Bruce’s secrets come from the most unlikely sources. He interviews with a myriad of people from all sorts of backgrounds who apply everything from game theory to business strategy to everyday family life.

The book is set up in an organized fashion. The author sets up the dilemma (traveling with kids), zero’s in on a family who has a unique approach, highlights the source of that approach and then uses his own family as a field test and provides some honest results. The book has a very pragmatic feel and offers several great tips, tricks and tidbits.

I doubt anyone walks away putting this whole book into practice, but I do admit we’ve tried a few of the tricks along the way here at the Hill house with varying results. If you’re looking for an easy and fun non-fiction read with a few tips and tidbits on family life this book is for you. It won’t change your life or your family but it may provide a few great resources to get more out of the areas that you may be missing.

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.”

 

 

Believe! (John 6:25-71)

Wow.  Lots to unpack here and think through in the gospel of John.  First note that Jesus says that God is working… Rather “this is the work of God” (John 6:29).  In my mind this is a throw back to the whole Healing on the Sabbath Day debacle. There Jesus said, “My father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17). This was his justification for working on the Sabbath… That though God had rested the 7th day, was still at work.  Here Jesus proclaims that the work of God is for people to believe whom he sent… (hint: that’s Jesus).

Then in John 6:40 there is the throw back again to John 3 where Jesus talks about being lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness.  Only here not the emphasis is on the looking… or belief.  In John 3 the emphasis was that Jesus would be lifted up, here the emphasis is that now those who look on Him and believe will have eternal life!

But wait there is more.  Jesus says that he is the bread from heaven.  He is the true manna from God.  Manna was the miracle bread that God provided for Israel while they wandered in the dessert.  God provided by sending bread down each day.  Here Jesus is saying that He is the true bread of life.  That once someone has gone to him, they don’t need any more.  He is enough.  He satisfies.

Enter now the context of feeding the 5000 earlier in this chapter.  Jesus proclaims that his body and his blood will be offered for the benefit of the world. He will indeed multiply the benefit of his death, burial and resurection to all those who would call on Him.

Application: Jesus is the true bread of Heaven.  You will never be content in this life if you continually feast on the things that do not satisfy.  Are you looking to Jesus today to fill you and sustain you?

Father,

I thank you for your kindness to me in drawing me to faith and repentance in Christ.  This indeed is truly a better gift than I could have ever imagined.  You are my daily bread.  You are what sustains me in good times and in bad.

Morning: Psalm 108

Mid-Day: Psalm 56

Evening: Psalm 8

“Jolt” By Phil Cooke (A Review)

Jolt!: Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing by Phil Cooke is an exciting read.  The book is basically a list of 25 “jolts” or things that a person needs to do in order to be successful in the Western business world and in life (of course this all largely depends on your definition of success).   The chapters are generally small and very readable in a ten to fifteen minute coffee break and range anywhere from three to ten pages in length.

Initially I thought the book was a bit cheesy and I wish the author would have picked a different name. Even though I knew what Phil was talking about I couldn’t shake this image from my mind the whole time.  Never the less the book did prove to be very useful to me and I dog-eared several pages to come back to and review later.

Many of the thoughts aren’t that revolutionary, but they are strong reminders of some basic life strategies.  Phil does an excellent job of continuing to point to the things that really matter.  In the end I came to really enjoy and appreciate the book.

Over all its a great read with a great cover design and if you can ignore images of gum with a high caffeine content that goes by the same name you will have a great time reading it as well. The retail price of Jolt is $22.99 (hardcover), and is available around the web in places likeAmazon.com for $15.02.  I gave it four stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze 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.”

If You want to be a Leader, you need to be a reader: how I find time to read two books a week.

I set out to read 100 books by the end of the year.  You can check my progress here.  Some people have come to ask… Where I find the time to read.

The short answer is while everyone else is watching TV… I’m reading.  Actually most of the time that I’m watching TV, I’m also reading a book.  I picked up the habit while in college and I was assigned 30 pages of reading every night for a literature class.  No one ever told me that it was strange to read all the assigned reading and so I read and I also watched TV with my roommates.  Somewhere along the way, I actually became decent at being able to navigate two narratives at once.

I also take a 15 minute lunch break 2 or 3 days a week depending on my schedule and read a chapter in a book while I eat the soup that I have brought with me to work. I’ve found that this is a great way to add 45 minutes to my work day (Normally I’d take an hour out to meet someone) and get in 15 minutes of reading.  I also read while doing other activities that require a minimal amount of response like cooking and brushing my teeth.  When all is said and done I get in about 1 to 2 hours reading each day. Most of it at night after I have put the kids to bed.

Bottom line.  If I spent as many hours reading as the average person spends watching television each year I would be able to read well over 100 books. Sometimes it is all about perspective and time management.  On occasion I’ve been criticized for reading too much. Yet, not many people would think much of me spending 2-4 hours a night watching television or cruising the internet.  What matters more to you?  The complete season of CSI or NCIS or the half dozen books you could read while one of these shows is on this season? Since I’ve never found anything of lasting value from watching episodes of CSI* I choose to have the TV on in the background and read about 50 -100 pages of a good book.

Jesus is the True Jacob’s Ladder (John 1:51)

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:47-51)

Here it is again.  Do you see it?  The story of Babel (Genesis 11) and the story of Bethel, where Jacob saw a ladder coming from Heaven (Genesis 28)  and we are still in the first chapter of John.  Babel reveals our inability to reach God.  Bethel reveals that God is reaching down to us.  Jesus promises here that He is the ladder.  He is the one that bridges the gap between God and Men.  No one sees God apart from the way that God has made.  Do you see it.

Application: You will never reach God. You will never please God. You will never even see God apart from going through Jesus Christ. Jesus has come to rescue us and restore us to a right relationship with God.  The message of Heaven is simply this… Emmanuel God with us!

Father,

Today I am provoked to praise.  Glory to Jesus Christ for what He has done so that I might know you.  He is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Guard my heart from being tempted to think that I stand or fall before based on anything to do with me.  It’s all about you.

Morning: Psalm 50

Mid-Day: Psalm 101

Evening : Psalm 2

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“He Has Made Him Known” (John 1:18)

What great news! This indeed is the gospel.  God has not left us without a way to know Him.  We do not have to blindly search our world for evidence of God.  We are not left alone in our depraved and fallen nature, cursed to wander through life aimlessly.  God has come to our rescue.  He has made Himself known.

What a marvelous plan.  God has not demanded that we be able to ascend to heaven.  We could never reach up to God by our merit or deeds… God has reached down to us.  You see this was the mistake at Babel (Genesis 11).  Man by his own devices was trying to reach unto the heavens.  He was trying to regain admission to the kingdom of God through force.

You see, that is why Jacob’s ladder was so important (Genesis 28).  It was a symbol, a promise that though man could not reach God, God could still reach down to men.  He spoke to Jacob there and made a promise.  A promise that was also made to his father, Abraham.  A promise that included the message that through Jacob’s offspring all the families of the earth would be blessed.

This is the picture.  Man can not reach up to God, but God will reach down to man.  The rift, the separation of people that was caused at the tower of Babel would not ultimately last.  There is still hope for all the families of the earth.  There is one who stands in the line of Jacob who has come to bring us to God.  There is one who has come to gather together people from every tongue, tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9).  There is one who has made God known to us.  His name is Jesus.

Father,

Our only hope is in Jesus Christ.  He is indeed the way the Truth and the Life.  I ask today that I would walk in Him.  Thank you for working in my life.  Thank you for saving me.  Changing me. Cleansing me.  Making me a new person in Jesus Christ.  I want the world to know you .  Give me grace to share your gospel with others today.

Morning: Psalm 100

Mid-Day: Philippians 4:4-8

Night: Psalm 1

“The Secret of Indigo Moon” By G. P. Taylor (A Review)

The Secret of Indigo Moon (The Dopple Ganger Chronicles) by G. P. Taylor is a fascinating book filled with mystery and intrigue.  The book is designed for children and young adults who don’t read often.  The narrative switches between a regular novel format with plain words on a page and graphic novel format where pages are filled with art depicting the scenes as they unfold.  Over all I was very impressed with the format.  The art work is also top-notch and fascinating in its own right.

I really enjoyed the content of the book.  G. P. Taylor is a master storyteller when it comes to engaging a middle school audience.  The Secret of Indigo Moon is a suspenseful tale of mystery and intrigue  filled with secret passageways, cover-ups, and disguises.  I found myself reading the whole book in one sitting.

I really like The Secret of Indigo Moon and I highly recommend it for middle school students and adults who enjoy such literature.  I especially like the blending of graphic art and novel formats.  I think it will engage a younger audience.  The retail price of The Secret of Indigo Moon is $19.99 (Hardcover), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $13.59. I gave it five stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Tyndale Blog Network. 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.”