Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: The Tech-Wise Family

Book Review:  The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch

The Good:

Ready for a Challenge.  Listen, this is not for beginners.  The instructions are not keep your phone usage under 5 hours per day and limit your binge watching for the weekend.  No, this book will make you want to throw your phone out the window and hug your kids for an hour.  The challenge is real people, so buckle up.

Hold Hands.  Why do we hold our kids’ hands in the parking lot?  To lead them to our car and not let them get hit by a Target shopper who couldn’t wait to hit the dollar bin.  Same principle here.  Crouch holds your hand the whole way, guiding you through each principle, and giving you practical steps to accomplish each step.

Rest in Peace.  Most of us reading this do not rest.  You may have times of leisure, but we do not rest.  God rested.  Is this thing on?  God rested.  And yet we still think we can go 24/7 with another shot of espresso, a smartphone, and a Google home.  Doesn’t work that way.  You need to rest, and this plan will help you get there.

The Bad:

Have you met my kids?  I love my kids dearly, but some of these rules/steps are…I’m laughing out loud as I type this thinking of my children…unrealistic.  To his credit, the author does say this is not a one size fit all plan.  For example, tea on Sunday?  Yeah my 4 year old son is gonna be hyped for an afternoon of tea and classical music.  I can just hear him saying, “Daddy, my turn to pick?  I’d like to hear Symphony No. 5 in C minor…please daddy?”.  Or the rule of no screens till they are 10.  Now keep in mind, this is cherry picking the difficult ones.  Most principles are dynamite and need to be considered.

The Grade:  A-

The case is made.  I mean, just look at this Time Magazine article, there is no debate anymore.  Too much screen time for children is dangerous and hazardous to our kid’s spiritual and mental health.  It’s time we take control, set boundaries, and not allow the addiction to technology start when they are in diapers.  Feel free to start small.  That is what our family did as we have implemented several ideas, and they have been beneficial to our family.  And one more thing, the tech-wise family, it starts with the parents.  Set the example, and lead your family into being a tech-wise family.  It will be uncomfortable at first, but that’s often where God works best.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review: Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

Book Review:  Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage by Jim Newheiser

The Good:

Biblical and Sensitive.  The author has great bed side manner in wading through difficult questions about marriage and divorce.  The book does not tip-toe around subjects, but appropriately guides the reader through Biblical texts carefully and effectively.

Explanations for His Explanations.  The author is so careful to take every angle and side to each question of marriage.  Newheiser goes to great lengths to thoroughly present solutions to marriage questions and take you on a full ride around all possible scenarios.

Fight Club.  Many marriages need to read the conflict chapter together.  This could save so much heartache and tension in a marriage.

The Bad:

N/A

The Grade:  A+.  Every pastor should have this on their shelf.  It provides Biblical answers to an array of ministry and counseling situations.  Additionally, it bestows great value for marriage counseling in its beginning pages as well.  With bite size chapters, well-formed summaries, and even discussion questions for further thought, the book is a must purchase for answers about marriage and divorce.

Tagged , , , , , ,

My Favorite Spurgeon Quotes

Instead of my normal book review, I thought I would just share my favorite quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s devotional “Faith Checkbook”.  These are quotes that impacted me the most from his book, but don’t stop there.  I would encourage you to take this book as a yearly challenge for your devotional time.

My own weakness makes me shrink, but God’s promise makes me brave.

It will be far more profitable for me to become unselfish and out of love to my Lord Jesus begin to care for souls of those around me.

Among the lost souls in hell there is not one that can say, “I went to Jesus and He refused me”.

Jesus is yours now if you will have Him, lean on Him, lean hard on Him.

The Lord does not mock humble souls.

Those whom God blesses, devils cannot curse.

What can the Lord deny us after giving us Jesus?…for if there had been a limit anywhere, He would have kept back His own Son.

The Lord’s eye is not dim, and He sees the blood of the great Sacrifice with steady gaze.

If we are wise, we shall rather welcome the refining process than decline it.

His own Spirit was wrought this desire in us, and therefore He will answer it.

He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the sky.

We must feel for others, and give them, not a few dry crusts, but such things as we ourselves would wish to receive.

He argued from past deliverances that he should receive help in a new danger.

God has given us a promise of real estate in the glory-land.

Blessed is the man who is busy in secret with his kindness.

Jesus still proclaims the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

He chooses to send you, it is not for you to shrink from the heavenly call.

The Lord may not give gold, but He will give grace.

A dauntless faith in God’s brushes fear aside like the cobwebs in a giant’s path.

Let me make my service of Jesus my occupation, my lifework, my one pursuit.

We have been loved too long, and bought at too great a price to be now forgotten.

You are immortal till your work is done.  If the Lord has more witness for you to bear, you will live to bear it…A wiser mind that our own arranges our destiny.

Our bodies humble us and that is about the best thing they do for us =)

Clouds may gather, but the Lord can blow them away.

What a bondage it is when the child of God is sold under sin, held in chains by Satan, deprived of his liberty, robbed of his power in prayer, and his delight in the Lord!

The fear of God casts out envy of men…He who fears God has nothing else to fear.

The enemy has been once overcome.  I fight with a beaten foe.

It would be well to know much, but better to love much.

Worry kills, but confidence in God is like healing medicine.

Rest assured that losses for the Lord are not losses.

In Him we died unto sin once, and the capital sentence cannot a second time be executed.

Warrior of the cross, fight on!  Never rest till thy victory is complete, for thine eternal reward will prove worthy of a life of warfare.

All our past mercies are tokens of future mercies.

We have only to summon courage enough to go forward, and we shall win dark homes and hard hearts for Jesus.

Tears clear the eyes for the sight of God in His grace; and make the vision of His favor more precious.

Our business is to persevere and learn by little by little.

He whose soul does not worship will never live in holiness.

Let me never find the galley of self-conceit and self-confidence floating on the waves of my usefulness.

Try the preaching of the crucified, risen, and ascended Savior; for this is the greatest “draw” that was ever yet manifested among men.

His heart is with His people, His delight is in them, He is never slow to meet them.

God cannot turn to us unless we turn from our sin.

Jesus made the life of His people as eternal as His own.  How can they die as long as He lives.

God’s time is the best time.

It ought not to be difficult for us to humble ourselves, for what have we to be proud of? =)

O Lord, sink me in self that I may rise in thee.

The all-sufficient is sufficient for my largest want.  He who is sufficient for earth and heaven is certainly able to meet the case of a poor worm like me.

We have looked elsewhere long enough, it is time that we look along to Him who invites our expectation, and promises to give us His salvation.

Let us thank God for a little success, and pray for more.

The remembrance of the grief shall heighten the flavor of the delight.

How can we distrust when Jehovah Himself becomes house and home, refuge and rest to us?

I have more knowledge, more experience, more patience, more stability than I had before the trials came.  (Amen!)

But as for the Lord our God, He is present when we seek Him, present when we need Him, and present when we already enjoyed His aid.

He will be all to all His beloved so long as the moon endureth.

Tagged , , , ,

Book Review: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

Book Review:  Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

The Good:

Is This Real Life?  What I appreciate about this book is how true to life it is.  These are not utopian principles that only exist on perfect planets.  No, we are talking about chapters full of incredible, insightful and practical advice that belong on the counselor’s shelf.

What does that mean?  Clear definitions of words using Biblical backing.  For example, gossip was defined as when “I confess the sin of another person to someone who is not involved”.  Yep, that’s it.  These tightly wound, easy to pick up definitions are throughout the book, and quite helpful in everyday counseling opportunities.

I’m gonna use that.  You will find yourself saying “oh, I’m gonna use that” out loud on numerous occasions.  The charts, tactics, Bible passages, and unique methods are so valuable to help people who are in need of a change.

The Bad:

Careful there partner.  What I like about Tripp’s books is they are never short on boldness.  It is bold from the very first page where it claims this will be the “best news a human being could ever receive”.  Now that’s bold.  But on occasion, he goes a little too far in his theological statements using language that might be too absolute or take an interpretation too far.  It’s rare, but make sure to not take it all as Gospel (which I don’t believe Tripp intended in the first place).

The Grade:  A-.  I think I am a bit late to the party.  Nearly every counselor training session that I have attended, the speaker recommends this very book.  And it did not disappoint.  Great value in the counselor setting, and for that matter as a pastor, parent and husband…great value in everyday life.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Book Review: In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

Book Review:  In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

The Good: 

Mind Blown.  This is not an exaggeration.  Literally, I was saying to myself as I was reading, “I literally have never thought of it that way”.  Batterson presented ground-breaking truths that were unique, but did not twist or alter Scripture.  Instead, he brought a complete change of perspective.

Colossal Burger.  Whenever I’m in a restaurant where I’m not sure what to order, I usually order a cheeseburger with the name “colossal” or “monster” in the title.  Not sure why, because when the waitress places it in front of me, I realize that thing is much bigger than my mouth.  Who cares, right?  Go for it!  That’s how I would describe the theological points of this book.  Deep and thought provoking…almost difficult to digest.  But in the end, you’re like, I’m gonna grab this with two hands and enjoy it.

Legacy Worthy.  You know what is a sign of a good book?  When you underline some lines in the book and write in the margin “Lord, help me teach this to my kids”.  A good book is legacy worthy.  A book where the quotes and principles are ones I want to remember and teach my kids.  Quotes that are worth of family mantras or mottos.  That’s a sign of a good book. 

The Bad:

Not on Same Page.  I’m not sure I am on the same page with one of the descriptions of faith in the book.  It wasn’t heretical, but it focused more on the mind than the heart.  It wasn’t something I’d be comfortable writing, and something I’d have to think over before accepting as truth.

Landing Gear.  The landing of the book was not as smooth as I hoped.  I’m still ready to chase the lion, and inspired like few books can, but the finish was not as inspirational as I would have hoped.

The Grade:  A. 

This came as a recommendation from a family member, saying “best book I’ve ever read”.  Me:  Alexa, order me this book (I don’t one of those machines, but you get what I’m saying).  Want to play it safe, keep your blinders on, and stay in the shallow end…then keep walking.  But…You want to dream?  You want a hard-hitting, rock your comfort-seeking life, mind-blowing book?  Here’s a book for you.  “This simple truth:  God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go”.  Think about it.

Favorite Quote:  “Maybe we should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances”.

Tagged , , , ,

Need a Book for Mentoring Junior High Boys?

Book Review:  A Young Man’s Guide to Making Right Choices

The Good:

Yep, That Sounds Right.  The book gives you an inside look at the life of a teenage boy.  And as I went through this with one of my students, we both found it to be right on in many ways.  The struggles and decisions were dead on.  The author chose the right subjects to discuss at just the right time.  So, as a result, the conversation flowed naturally from chapter to chapter.

Junior High Gold Mine.  You just don’t find many books like this.  Turning a teenager is not an easy task on anyone.  These boys to men need some help.  And with this book, help is on the way!  It provides easy to read chapters, loads of follow-up questions, and challenging material to help these young men grow to be men of God.

The Bad:

Updating…With any book, it could use some updating.  Technology is going at such a rapid pace, there are some words and vernacular that is somewhat dated.  Even with this book being published only 7 years ago, you may have to add to some of the application to keep it relevant.  But for the most part, the practical suggestions are very applicable and up to date.

The Grade:  A.  It’s not earth shattering or rocket science, but I will say this…It is one of the best resources I have ever come across in mentoring junior high boys.  There is not a ton of material out there, and this is an age that needs discipleship and guidance.  So parents, youth pastors and workers, I would encourage you to meet with a handful of guys and read through this book together.  Spend some time teaching them these important principles.  You may save them from making poor decisions, and help them make godly choices.

 

Tagged , , , , ,

Book Review: Everybody Always

Book Review:  Everybody Always by Bob Goff

Also see Bob Goff’s 1st Book, Love Does, review here.

The Good:

Life-changing.  There is a difference between a good book and a book that is life-changing.  A good book is enjoyable, but a life-changing book grips your heart.  A good book you read when you get a chance, a life-changing book you can’t wait to read the next chapter.  A good book you might put on your shelf, a life-changing book is one you want to share with everyone.  This book…it’s life-changing.  Now, I realize I set the bar high, so don’t go into it with it being on par with the Bible.  That’s not my point.  The point is if you capture the message of the book, and apply it…boom, life changed.

Outside of the Box, More Like “What Box?”.  What I love about the author is his whimsical, spontaneous, but fun-loving personality.  You hitch a ride on the story of his life, and you don’t want to get off the crazy.  It is the most fun I have ever had reading a book.  Goff thinks and acts so much differently, it is so refreshing.  He brings so much joy through simply saying yes to loving others.

Master Illustrator.  You feel like you are right there, seeing what Bob is seeing.  With each paragraph, it feels like you are living out the story.  Then as he lands the plane (sometimes literally), Goff hits you between the eyes with a dynamite, punch to the gut quote that are so raw, real, and dead on that you need a minute to let it sink it.  Can I give you a couple quick teaser quotes – “When joy is a habit, love is a reflex”.  “As soon as we have an agenda, it’s not love anymore”.  Man, that last one hurt.  See what I mean?

The Bad:

Be Careful Bob.  He uses a whole lot of “I think Jesus is saying” in the book.  While I am certainly not saying there is heresy here, but the illustrations sometimes are a stretch…but maybe that’s a good thing.  This is a read that will stretch you, how you think, and if you truly are following the model Jesus lived.

The Grade:  A+.  As I shared stories from the book with my wife I got tears in my eyes, for different reasons.  Some of the things Bob would do and say just make you laugh out loud.  But the heart-wrenching stories of lives impacted grip your heart, and you find tears in your eyes.  I love this book.  I love the stories, the raw honest approach, and the willingness to be a world changer by acting like Jesus.  It’s weird to say, but I’ll miss my time each night reading a chapter like a delicious dessert after dinner.  But if I learned anything, it’s my turn to make some stories of loving others like Jesus loves.

Tagged , ,

Book Review: How to Walk Into Church

Book Review:  How to Walk Into Church by Tony Payne

The Good:

Real Life.  What I appreciate about this book is the raw honesty.  Payne is able to present real life examples of what church is like, honest question people wrestle with, and provide solutions to those issues.  It’s a refreshing look at church and it’s purpose.

No Excuses.  The book is able to tackle the question “Why go to church” head on.  Rather than just get in the minivan on Sunday and drag your family into church, it’s important to answer that question.  Payne will lead you through the routine and lead you through a path of joy and worship on the other side.

Brief & Creative.  It seems there is a myth out there that a book needs to be long for it to be effective.  Wrong!  This book took me two days to tackle (which for a slow reader like myself, is quite the feat).  In it you find creativity, storytelling, plus Biblical principles and solutions.  Payne does a fantastic job of combining brevity and creativity.

The Bad:

The Ending.  This is nitpicking, but it seemed quite abrupt.  Usually books like this sends you out with a conclusion or summarizing though.  Not this one, it ends with Ephesians 2:10, and send you on your way.

The Grade:  A-.  Whether you are struggling in your present church, looking for a church to join, or even questioning the purpose of church…find answers in this book to help you walk into church with joy and a heart ready to serve.

Tagged , , , , ,

Book Review: Confident Parenting

Book Review:  Confident Parenting by Jim Burns

The Good:

Let’s Talk.  I’m discovering more and more that these are the types of books I enjoy most.  The book is written in such a way that I feel like we are having a conversation.  He gives examples of home life that makes the content more personable.  All throughout there are real life stories that feel like you are having a conversation with a trusted counselor.  Easy read, and that’s a good thing.

Plan Ahead.  What’s your plan for your kids?  Do you a have a discipleship plan?  What type of spiritual goals do you have for your kids?  Yeah, exactly.  If you answered “uh”, you might want to give this book a try.  Great practical advice for future and intentional planning for your kids.

Ironic Title.  It’s ironic a book called “Confident Parenting” could make me a little less confident.  That is, in the sense that I have a long way to go.  There is much to work on.  But the confidence comes from the advice, the hope of a future, and practical ways to reach your goals.

The Bad:

Theology Light.  With the exception of a couple of chapters, it was light on theology.  It has a great Biblical foundation.  And you know, I don’t think the intent was to dive into a theological discussion on parenting.  Rather, it presented Biblical points and dove into practical ways to carry out God’s instructions.  And the book accomplished this goal masterfully.

The Grade:  B+.  Don’t have time to read a parenting book, because you know, you’re a full-time parent just hanging on?  This would be a great book to just read a few pages in between karate, the grocery store, and laundry.  Looking for a less busy, grace-filled, positive, and encouraging home?  Then you might want to give this book a try.

 

Tagged , , ,

Book Review: Rejoicing in Christ

Book Review:  Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves

The Good:

Only Scratching the Surface.  As we reviewed this book as board members, one deacon in our meeting said this book serves as a reminder that we “have only scratched the surface.  I think we often have too little of a view of Jesus”.  Wow!  And this book will do that to you.  Get ready, because Reeves will make you realize how little you know about your Savior.  But don’t let it get you down, allow this read to inspire you to get to know Jesus better.

Take a Breather.  This is some heavy stuff.  You may need to put the book down, take a breather, and digest what you just read.  You feel like you just ate a whole double cheeseburger in one bite (I shouldn’t be writing before I eat my lunch), when you should just be dipping that burger in ketchup and taking one bite at a time.  Did I mention I’m hungry?

You Talkin’ to Me?  Although there is great depth, what I appreciate most about the book is the conversational tone.  It is as if I am sitting down with the author and talking about Jesus.  And Reeves does a masterful job at taking theological truths that have always been there, and drawing out incredible insight about Christ.  I enjoyed sitting on the front porch having a talk with the author, so to speak.

The Bad:

Heavy Lifting.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but more a warning.  You will be challenged in your knowledge and relationship with Jesus.  OK, so that’s not bad at all.

The Grade:  A.  A tremendous read that provides mind-blowing insight into the person of Jesus Christ.  The book takes you on turns you weren’t expecting but always ends the journey in the same place, where you sit in wonder and honor of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tagged , , , , ,
Advertisements