Tag Archives: Book Review

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.


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Book Review: “What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him” by Byron Yawn

Book Review: What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Yawn51pc3yNJ2uL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The Good:

One Liner After One Liner. Goodness, I have never read a book that had so many one-liners that hit you right between the eyes, especially as a dad. So much so, you had to really take your time through some paragraphs because were so full of sentences dripping with truth and power.

Like a Modern Day Proverbs. The wisdom this book provides for sons and Fathers of sons is priceless. It will provide healing, wisdom, instruction, and parenting guidance. It reminds me of the book Solomon wrote for his son…while it certainly does not have the power of God’s Word, it still draws from Biblical principles for the next generation of men.

Counseling Gold. Countless times I wrote in the margin of this book “counseling illustration” or “use in counseling”. As a young father, I need all the wisdom I can get in parenting my own children, let alone counseling other fathers. This will help.

Humor Like a Desert. Just how I like it. I love dry humor, and this book was full of it. It was well-placed, and allowed the read to be more enjoyable. At times, it kept me coming back for more.

Miscellaneous Reasons for Purchase. #1 – Man Laws. #2 – Chapter on Sexual Purity. #3 – Chapter 18 will grip your heart and will have an incredible effect on the reader (if not, check your pulse).

The Bad:

Redundancy. There was some redundancy of literary style at times. Hard to explain, but sometimes slowed the flow of the read. The repetitiveness in style often cause the writer to say the same thing in different ways in the same paragraph.

Too Dogmatic? I put a question mark here because it wasn’t something that caused me to struggle in my doctrinal view of the book. However, there were some very strong statements that may cause you to slightly raise an eyebrow, but not get bent out of shape.

Take the Gospel, and Call me in the morning. This seems like this is happening more and more in our Christian culture where we simply say the solution is the Gospel. While it probably is true, I need more than just the word, but an explanation. There were times in the book where it had the former without the latter.

The Grade: A

I just finished the book a few days ago, and have already recommended it to a Men’s Bible study group, a parent of a teen, and put it in my planner to recommend at my next big parents meeting. This book comes strongly recommended from one dad to another. With my little boy coming any day now, I needed this, and your son wants you to read this book too.

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Book Review: Inter-Generational Youth Ministry

Book Review:  Inter-Generational Youth Ministry by Mel Walker

The Good: 

Intergenerational Cover FinalThose in youth ministry are up to our ears in statistics of high school and young adults leaving the church. True, statistics tell a story, and are valuable in evaluating cultural trends. However, statistics are like a home run hitter that only hits home runs when no one is on base. It is helpful, but it will rarely give your team the win. Statistics are helpful, but they rarely get results. That is, unless you couple those statistics with solutions. When you provide solutions, you have a book worth reading.

This book begins with a youth culture history lesson. It was fascinating, and set up the rest of the book perfectly. In fact, I found it so helpful, I used much of the material in my message at the teen/senior citizen luncheon. It was a perfect tie in of generations. Basically, I gave the history of youth ministry, the current state of youth ministry, and what you as the elder generation can do to help.

In the following chapters, each ministry of the church is dissected and examined. From children’s ministry to the senior saints, the evaluation of the current church models were scrutinized respectfully, and given helpful solutions to issues that exist in churches across the nation.

As a reader of scores of youth ministry books, what separates the good from the bad is the “how”. Sure, anyone can observe and articulate the problems that exist in youth ministry. Anyone can verbalize problems like a popular news network. But what makes this a good youth ministry book, is it provides the “how”. Each chapter includes multiple, practical steps to implement the solution to the existing issues. In addition to the how, each solution is accompanied with Biblical support. What a combo! So, when you as a youth worker, youth pastor, church staff member, parent, or church member begin to employ some of these solutions in your church and inevitably get the “why” question. You now have practical reasons and Biblical reasons for the changes and new ministry practices you are implementing in your church. That’s what I call armed and dangerous…OK, maybe I should stick with practical and Biblical.

The Bad:

Frankly, it was difficult to find the bad in this book (you will see why when I give out the grade), but there was one thing. On occasion, there is a repetition of illustrations or concepts. Some of this, I realize, was done for emphasis of certain points. However, there were other idioms or illustrations that were repeated, and could have used some more originality.

The Grade: A

This book is a MUST READ for all those involved in the church. Notice I did not just say those involved in youth ministry. This is an all-hands-on-deck experience. This is a total church makeover that is worth a look. These concepts and ideas have been part of my ministry philosophy for years, and for someone to write down specific ways to implement them, it is like long-lost friends being reunited.

Not only is this book immensely practical and useful, but as was mentioned before, it is Biblical. Without the Biblical support, you could get excited about new ministry ideals, but they would have no weight, no substance, and fade away like a passing fad. The Bible’s eternal principles are worth exploring, and are priceless when a writer can articulate those in your context, and flesh our practical ways to accomplish those principles.

Honestly, this was one of my favorite youth ministry books I have read. It deserves to be put into practice in your ministry today. It’s time we do something about the problems of our young people leaving the church, instead of just pointing out the problem. This book will give you solutions, and step-by-step instructions to putting those solutions to work.

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Book Review: The Seven Checkpoints

Book Review:  The Seven Checkpoints by Andy Stanley

The Good: 7 checkpoints If you have read any of my book reviews in the past, you know how much I enjoy the personal stories.  There is just something about personal stories that makes points stronger and more practical, in my opinion.  And in this book, there are plenty of these invaluable stories.  Other highlights of this book include the best explanation of the issue of teens and authority that I have every read or heard.  That is just one example how this book was able to provide superior insight in the spiritual life and spiritual needs of teenagers.  Then, in the final chapter, this book puts its money where its mouth is (whatever that means).  What I mean is, basically, the book takes you through the seven checkpoints that are vital principles that every teenager should know.  In the final chapter (and in the appendix) you have are given a game plan in how to implement these principles.

The Bad:  There are just a few things in this book that could be cleared up with a quick edit or backspace button.  Let me give you a few examples.  Rarely are there references next to the Scripture quotes.  Why?  That would just take a few seconds to correct and would be very helpful.  Stanley seems to have a propensity to use hyperbole in his writing.  Example would be on page 121, “The most difficult thing you will do as a teenager is walk away from relationships with people you really care about.”  Lastly, I would highly suggest reading the revised version.  In the 2001 version, there is no reference to texting and social media.  Also, when a celebrity is mentioned, they are outdated.  It needs a little updating.

The Grade:  B+.  This is one that every youth pastor or youth leader should read.  I realize it is written to youth leaders, and I see value in using this in parent meetings, but I guess I expected it to more applicable to parenting than it is.  Other than that, this has great value in youth ministries everywhere.

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Book Review: Do Hard Things (Written by Students)

dohardthings1This is a treat.  This book was read by students preparing for a mission trip this summer.  Each of them wrote a short review of the book.  Since this book is written primarily for teenagers in a rebellion against low expectations, isn’t it fitting that teenagers write the review?  Enjoy their honesty and practical reviews.

The Book:  “Do Hard Things”

The Good:

  • “Loved how each chapter had a story…illustrations…” helped understanding
  • “Good ideas & application”
  • Practical – “gave examples…how to do them and how to overcome obstacles
  • “No two people have the same point of view, everyone is meant for a different purpose”.  This book helps a teenager understand this premise.
  • Inspirational stories of people who “pursued what their heart was telling them to do”
  • “Loved chapter 3” and the examples of teens who were unqualified but God still used in mighty ways.
  • “Amazing, inspiring book”.  “Since it’s written by people close to our age, it makes it seem more realistic”
  • “It shows me that I’m not alone, there are tons of people out there doing what I am to do”

The Bad:

  • Too many stories and too much detail of those storieschuck-norris
  • “Didn’t care for the campaigning or advertising in the book”
  • “Some of things don’t apply to me”
  • “Repetitive.  A drawn-out feeling”
  • “Needed more Chuck Norris.”
  • “Examples were only that of perfect success stories”
  • “TOO MANY STORIES, Stop Bragging”
  • “Barely mentioned God in the beginning”
  • Took me a long time “to actually say the word rebulutionary”

The Grade:  B (Average Grade)

Reasons for the Grade:

  • “Challenging.  Relatable.  Pushed me in my relationship with God.”
  • “Not a big fan”.  Not that challenging.
  • “Only talked about success stories”
  • “Very repetitive”
  • “Good & moving book that inspires me and others to step up”
  • “Very good book, but it hasn’t…pulled me to be a teenager like them”
  • “Really great book and it made me realize our generation does need a wake up call”

(Encouraging Side Note:  Each student was given the assignment of coming up with their own “Rebulutionary Action Plan”.  Let me just tell you, I was so impressed.  The plans they have for their lives…they truly are rebelling against low expectations, and I can’t wait to see what they will do for God’s Kingdom next!)



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“Love Does” Book Review

Love Does

The Good:

In a word:  Inspirational.  Recently, I have had this desire not to live an ordinary life.  So I picked up to books to help feed this desire:  Love Does & Don’t Waste Your Life.  Bingo!  The American dream of education, job, nice house & things, and nice retirement is not my dream.  My dream is to affect people with the Gospel, to impact people through ministry & giving, and turn people to Jesus by representing His name well.  Notice all these are ACTION.  That’s what this book is about:  ACTION of a follower of Christ.

Enough talk!  “Love Does” is all about loving others with actions.  Each chapter is a story from the author’s life, and he is able to segway that story to a gospel-centered application.  And these stories will blow you away, make you laugh, tug at your heart strings, and again, inspire you.

Proceeds go to help build a school in Uganda.  How bout that for good?!?

The Bad:

There were a couple theological points that I wasn’t completely on the same page.  As you read, there are sometimes where the author uses opinion of God’s view on things and allows the reader to take them as factual.  Also, more Scripture was needed for the Christian principles that were emphasized in each chapter.

The Grade:  B+

Great book.  I was excited each time I picked it up to see what crazy story was next, and how it relates to my Savior.  A must-read for those stuck in a rut, for those that want their life to have meaning, for those that are ready to live an exciting life of following Christ and reaching others.  This was just what the doctor ordered.  This wasn’t a book I wanted to read, this was a book I NEEDED to read.

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Book Review: Disciplines of a Godly Young Man

Disciplines of a Godly Young Man – By Hughes & Hughes

The Good

If the purpose of the book is to lead a young person through the disciplines of the Christian life, and use this book for the purpose of discipleship…then this book hit the ball out of the park.  There is another version for adult discipleship (found heredailydisciplines), but for mentoring or discipleship of young men, this ranks at the top of my list.

Not only does it provide a great tool in discipleship, it also is challenging for the reader as well.  It provided Biblical and practical methods for achieving the disciplines of the Christian life.  It leaves very few stones unturned and is not afraid to challenge the reader to reach for greater heights in their spiritual walk.

If you are a teacher, preacher, parent, or mentor…this book is loaded with illustrations that drive the importance of daily disciplines.  I was constantly underlining the stories and illustrations.  If anything, that is worth the price of admission.

The Bad

There were some demonstrative and wide-sweeping statements that were made a few times.  Although, for the most part I agreed, it was a little dangerous.  For example, words like “never” and “no way” come often and with great weight.  I would take note of this in discipleship, and talk over these absolute statements together.  You may find they need to be stated this strongly to drive home the importance.

The Grade:  A.

You heard me.  I give it the highest grade besides perfection.  For discipleship, there are few better.  If you are a youth worker, parent, mentor, teacher, aunt, uncle, grandparent (do I need to keep going) of a young person, buy it and use it to disciple.  Many chapters can be used for young women as well.

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Book Review: 4-in-1 New Years Special

To all those slow-readers (or those that have not always enjoyed reading) out there like myself:  I have found something that has revolutionized my reading.  Here a couple changes I have made recently that have increased my reading output tremendously:

  1. Read several books at a time.  Instead of laboring through just one book, read several and you will find you will read more because you can choose something based on your mood or time frame.  It’s like you are at a smorgasbord each time you read – now doesn’t that make reading more appetizing.
  2. Second, discipline yourself to read 20 minutes a day (suggestion from my Sr. Pastor).  You will be amazed at what that will do to your reading.

You Lost Me – By David KinnamanYou-Lost-Me

The Good:  Looking for detail research and ideas as to how to reduce the “graduating from church” movement that we are seeing.  It does a great job at deciphering the differences of reasons why young people are leaving the church.  The fear with these types of books is when there is end all solution to the problem.  But what makes this book unique is taking the individual characteristics and beliefs of each young person that leaves the church.  It addresses science vs. the church, addressing doubts, and other factors in the dropout rate of young people.

The Bad:  My fear is always with numbers and statistics, that the business model will overshadow God’s model.  While I don’t think this book has this problem, one may need that caution before reading.

The Grade:  B.  Was not as engaging as I expected to be, but the information is invaluable.  Anyone in ministry or those that work with young adults, it is strongly suggested.  Church planters, senior pastors, youth workers, parents of teens…pick this up.  Also, this would a valuable tool for young youth pastors developing their philosophy of ministry.

Rescuing Ambition – By Dave Harvey

rescuing ambitionThe Good:  Talk about a motivating book.  Enjoyed the humor throughout, and the spiritual value is off the charts.  Chapters 8-10 alone are worth the price of admission, powerful stuff.

The Bad:  Felt like it was like a locomotive, it took a little while to gain some steam, but when you get to the last chapters, you don’t want to get off this train.

The Grade:  A-.  Just because of the slow start.  Great read.

Just Do Something – Kevin DeYoungjust-do-something

The Good:  Love the honesty of this book.  A perfect read for young adults, especially those that well, you know, need to JUST DO SOMETHING in their life.  An honest look at pursuing the will of God and a willingness to think outside the box of what we were taught in youth group about knowing the will of God.  Written in a humorous, understanding, and straight-to-the-point kind of way.  My kind of book!

The Bad:  The use of some absolute language in his findings on the will of God worried me a little.  I don’t know if I would have been so dogmatic, but does well to drive the point home.

The Grade:  A.  Why an A?  Because I think EVERY young person from 16-29 should read this book.  I’m serious.

Prayer (Does it Make any Difference?) – By Philip Yancey

prayer_does_it_make_any_differenceThe Good:  This book is willing to dive into some deep, difficult questions.  Prayer is somewhat of an anomaly in the peculiar sense.  It is hard to describe, measure, or understand fully.  The author takes an honest look at where most people struggle with prayer, but don’t always voice their difficulty.  Had a bunch of “never thought of that” moments throughout the book.

The Bad:  Lengthy (sorry, had to say it).  Also, not what I would call a motivator to pray, but more an encouragement to love prayer more.

The Grade:  B+.  Felt like it could be condensed, but would not have traded my time with this book with another.


Currently Reading:  Love Does (Goff), Disciplines of a Godly Young Man (Hughes), Don’t Waste Your Life (Piper)

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