Not every project you start is worth finishing. Sometimes we get into it and realize, “This is a waste o
...moreMichael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson, has said,
Not every project you start is worth finishing. Sometimes we get into it and realize, “This is a waste of time.” Fine, then give yourself permission to quit. I do this all the time with reading. It’s why I am able to read so many articles and books. Here’s publishing’s dirty little secret: most books are not worth finishing. Most books could be cut in half and you wouldn’t miss a thing. The key is to read as long as you are interested and then stop. There are too many great books to read without getting bogged down in the merely good ones. [Hyatt, Michael. “How to Shave Ten Hours Off Your Work Week.” Productivity Magazine 2(2009): 13 Print]
If I had not been intent on writing this review I would have taken his advice with this book! I quickly decided that Brian’s latest book was a waste of time. I found very little redeeming qualities for this book.
I felt it was poorly written, purposely arrogant, confusing and contradictory. I do not recommend this book.
If Brian was clearly presenting a view I disagreed with I might feel differently but in reality, I’m not even sure what his view is! He contradicted himself on multiple occasions. He claims that the book is about finding freedom but it is never clear what this means.
Regarding the Gospel – he does not like reducing it to basic components that clearly present the salvation message,
“But I never liked those four laws. If the primary thing about figuring out God is learning those laws, then I’d rather not figure out God. Laws restrict. They come with punishment. They are cold and impersonal. These are not the lead characteristics of God.”
But yet he does recognize that there are commands and non-options that we are bound to.
“God has given us freedom to make decisions in our lives—but He hasn’t given us freedom about whether to submit to authorities. We are bound by this command when we choose to follow Jesus. And the crazy thing is that even when we are bound by commands, they are the kind of shackles that lead to freedom.”
So it seems that Brian picks and chooses which “laws” to feel we are under. Some restrict and some lead to freedom. He never gives us a game plan for categorizing them. I found it impossible to walk away from his teaching with any practical concept that I could apply to real life.
He was brash and uncaring towards the body of Christ. For example, it seems that Brian was always looking for some opportunity to be cool and talk about drinking beer. I counted at least 6 unnecessary references to drinking. In most cases it seemed he was specifically poking at segments of Christianity who might be offended by it. Apparently he feels freedom to drink but he also feels a need to push it into the face of others. If this was just part of his normal culture and he is totally unaware that it might bother others than I would expect it to possibly come up in some story he might present. But no other aspect of his typical life came up nearly as much or with a seeming “jab” attached.
I did not find this book encouraging to Christian community, unity or personal growth. I found it confusing, offensive and divisive.
So may I repeat myself: I do not recommend it. (less)
Deepest Differences is accurately titled. The book is made up of actual emails between two very different people. It is great to see how both James Si...moreDeepest Differences is accurately titled. The book is made up of actual emails between two very different people. It is great to see how both James Sire and Carl Peraino talk to each other as friends and yet with passion to their points of view.
James make is clear that his position is one of a biblical theist. I’m pretty certain that he is a theistic evolutionist so I don’t personally believe that he is consistent with the “biblical” part. However, to be fair James never says this and instead argues that logically you do not have to believe in creationism to believe in theism. James makes many good arguments but clearly respects the man at the other end of the email.
Carl is clearly a naturalist who believes that evolution and social constructs explain the origin of life and the morals that rule our society. He has very little open mindedness to anything supernatural. I would believe that his pre-suppositions would cause him to reject even the most objective proof for a miracle or supernatural event. Again, Carl is quick to apologize when he feels his passion might offend his friend.
I was able to learn quite a bit about the two viewpoints these men espoused but I would not recommend an email format for this purpose. It is way more efficient to read summary statements about these world views. The real value I see in this book is the opportunity to hear the passion and heart of a real person’s worldview and the example of respectful dialogue. You might think that this book is a debate but I would disagree. Every debate I am familiar with takes on the format of the following: One person states a position; the next person takes an opposite position and seeks to prove the validity of his view. There is little regard for the other person’s feelings, background or peripheral concerns that would be effected (possibly even devastated) by finding that his view might be wrong. Reality is that they do not focus on helping someone change their view as much as winning an argument. The two gentlemen in this book do argue passionately for their respective views but they clearly value the other person. I believe they could have done a better job of caring for the other person by becoming more concerned holistically with the other person rather than with just the viewpoint.
By only discussing viewpoints they finally came to the position that there were DEEPEST DIFFERENCES that were irreconcilable and thus agreed to stop discussing those differences any further. I do recommend this book but not if you are specifically looking to learn how to argue either of these views. (less)
The Shack is a "thinking" book. What I mean is that you probably won't agree with a lot of what you think the author might be saying. There are severa...moreThe Shack is a "thinking" book. What I mean is that you probably won't agree with a lot of what you think the author might be saying. There are several things that make this tough.
First - The author writes in a humble way that makes you "like" the characters.
Second - The story is clearly a fictional analogy (and possibly at multiple levels). This means that at times the author does not clearly say what he is trying to imply and so you are left guessing what he means.
Third - When the author has a character say something he will say it in regards to the character's life and it may be a bit hard to tell if he is making a doctrinal point or an application point.
Fourth - Some of the subject matter is regarding areas of reality that Scripture is silent on. For example, it's just impossible to fully grasp the relationship between the members of the trinity and all the implications that come from it.
However - there are several times that the author will say, "God is..." and at that point we can nail down what he believes about that point. There were several of these that I would not agree with and that certainly affect my view of the book.
Outside of all that - I did enjoy the book and I especially enjoyed the opportunity to think about issues from another perspective. He brings out several points that helped me to think less "boxed in, cold factual doctrine" and instead of the personal character and heart of God.
I'm not sure I would recommend the book. But if you are secure in your doctrine and enjoy thinking outside of the box you will enjoy this book. (less)
“Instruments In The Redeemer’s Hands” by Paul Tripp
I am so thankful to have walked into my office one day only to find this book sitting on my desk. I...more“Instruments In The Redeemer’s Hands” by Paul Tripp
I am so thankful to have walked into my office one day only to find this book sitting on my desk. I had this book highly recommended to me and I can honestly say that I pass that same high recommendation on to others. Thank you, Jim.
The subtitle, “People needing change helping people who need change” is an excellent summary. This book really focuses on a new way of looking at life in the context of the body of Christ. Paul does a great job of humbly showing us how people who, if honest, recognize their weaknesses but still have a responsibility before Christ to minister to one another.
Paul uses the term, “Personal Ministry”, which for me personally had come to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I have seen this term refer to a legalistic feeling that everyone of us should always point out the problems in everyone else’s lives. Even to the point where its acronym became a verb, “She pm’ed her good friend.” But Paul, without knowing my concerns, has pulled this term out of my garbage heap, cleaned it off and helped me to see the Love of God when He incarnates Christ through the personal ministry of each member of the Body of Christ. This is very practical. The stories are excellent, interesting and really helped me grasp the concepts presented. Paul builds a case for true personal ministry and then gives us practical steps and tips that are biblically based. The basic method is explained using the words: Know, Love, Speak, Do. Paul takes each of these and develops it showing how Christ’s view of the individual and love for the body is the central focus throughout.
We as a body are each gifted, skilled, and talented in very unique ways. We each add another facet to the beauty of this body. But in the same way that we are unique in our positive values, we are also unique in our struggles and each of us are blinded in some way. We need each other to lovingly minister the incarnated, resurrected life of Christ. I believe that this book is a great tool to help us become committed to personal ministry with confidence that it is biblical and godly.
MUST READ for anyone in leadership, counseling or ministry. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone in the body of Christ. (less)
This book is going to go down as one of the most life changing books I will have read in 2009.
I really enjoy Donald Miller's writing style. I really w...moreThis book is going to go down as one of the most life changing books I will have read in 2009.
I really enjoy Donald Miller's writing style. I really want to read more of his work. I don't believe that he has the greatest grasp on theology but God has taught him many things in regards to being "Fathered" by God and Donald does a great job of presenting it in this book. He uses fantastic analogies, great profound thoughts and very clear explanations.
Donald has written the book from the standpoint of his own personal life. Most of the book is a personal testimony. It starts with a focus on the importance of having a father and what is lost in not having a healthy father relationship. From there he wrestles with overcoming this and gains some very good/mature insights like:
Men who try to mentor us make mistakes. As such, they do not reflect God as a failure but reflect fallen humanity. In as much as they try to reach us they reflect God. Secondly, they do not owe it to us. They are not responsible to love us unconditionally - our fathers were. Anything they give us is a GIFT.
As he continues Donald begins to talk about how God has fathered him and the lessons he has learned. I have generated a list of things from it that I wish to intentionally share with my sons and other young men.
Family life IS interdependent It is healthy to understand the absolute necessity of every individual. Submission to Authority Be a man. There are no secrets - You are a man so be a man! Irresponsibility is not cute! We need to have a strategy. We need to be patient and persistent when life puts setbacks in front of our strategy. Integrity - What is your soul worth? Work is worship! Find your delight in life, learn and live. Our trust in God grows.
I have bought this book for others and would highly recommend it to all men. I especially believe it would be good for any man who might be working with individuals who grew up without a father or with an unhealthy father relationship.(less)
Ken Ham has teamed up with a Britt Beemer, a survey research specialist. Working together they have surveyed a cross-section of conservative evangelic...moreKen Ham has teamed up with a Britt Beemer, a survey research specialist. Working together they have surveyed a cross-section of conservative evangelical young adults. After analyzing the results they present the case that our young adults are leaving the church at an epidemic level. However t he most surprising discovery is that the vast majority left the church prior to high school graduation. The youth had questions and challenges for the Christian worldview that were not answered satisfactorily and they left mentally before finally leaving physically.
Ken presents the material in a pretty easy read structure. Their statistics are presented well. I believe the material is a bit week in considering a solution. Ken is very balanced in his presentation. He does a good job of indicating that the focus on music preferences and other worship concerns are not good or bad but they are clearly missing the point. Ken’s point is to re-establish the foundation of God’s Word and especially Genesis and then to make sure we are really living it in a non-compromising manner.
Ken shows that the youth leaving fit into two categories: those who specifically reject faith in God’s Word and those who believe God’s Word but see church as irrelevant. In his argument to return to God’s Word he hopes to win young people to faith through an “evidential apologetic” by knowing and giving well explained reasons to believe. In his argument to “really live” according to God’s Word he hopes to remove the hypocrisy and lack of love that makes the church seem irrelevant.
I believe he neglects the fact that in the Post-Christian western worldview we are raising a generation who believe all truth is relative. A person may say they don’t believe and then have well argued evidence presented and yet still choose not to believe. What’s true for you may not be true for them. Evidence in and of itself is not enough to convince them. Another person may say they believe in those truths and yet hold belief in contrary views at the same time. Truth is a very fluid thing for them. I believe it is very possible that both groups of Ken’s survey may have the same underlying problem – a post modern view of reality.
I think Ken’s book is a great eye opener to the issues facing our churches in today’s generation. I believe it falls short in the answers. We still need a good holistic curriculum that helps build a transformational worldview for our young people. This worldview is solidly based on God’s transcendent character and man’s need for truth authored by a transcendent God. Then returning to Genesis will have a transformation effect in their lives.
I recommend the book but feel it is still lacking some crucial elements. (less)
Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership by Tim Irwin
I found this book to be overly simplistic and generalized. Tim too...moreDerailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership by Tim Irwin
I found this book to be overly simplistic and generalized. Tim took the downfall of 6 different corporate leaders and identified five key character deficiencies he believes contributed. He breaks character in to four key areas: authenticity, self-management, humility, and courage. I do believe the deficiencies were clearly there but I also believe that the derailments may have been more complex than Tim describes. Tim is attempting to present this material in the same form as “From Good to Great”. However, he simply doesn’t have the same amount of research and connections between the CEO train wrecks. His dogmatic assertions are not based on scientific study but rather on an intuitive surface level.
That being said, there is no doubt that these CEO’s would have been better leaders if they had developed these character qualities. Tim does a good job of explaining each quality and showing how they could have a positive impact on business leaders today. I particularly appreciated the way he presented the quality of courage and how it has an impact on the leadership provided. Tim asserts that derailment is a process and I believe we would all agree. However, I’m not sure that it will always happen in the same order.
After profiling the 6 leaders, identifying character deficiencies and showing the downward process they follow, Tim gives two chapters to explain how we can avoid a similar downfall. He does a fine job but I believe that much more could have been said.
I probably would not recommend this book. I found the book simplistic and boring. I believe that you could find better books on leadership qualities and leadership deficiencies than “Derailed”. (less)
A great missionary biography along the lines of Corrie ten Boom's, "Hiding Place", Kabul24 details the modern times imprisonment of 8 western missiona...moreA great missionary biography along the lines of Corrie ten Boom's, "Hiding Place", Kabul24 details the modern times imprisonment of 8 western missionaries and their 16 Afghan employees. Taken just before the 9/11 bombings, they were probably being held as negotiation pieces in the event of retaliation. Until reading about their narrow escape, I was under the assumption that they were released through negotiations. Greater than the political circumstances is the "faith" seen in their lives.
The authors resist the tendency to sensationalize the conditions or faith of these hostages. The result is a story that is easy to see as real and yet amazing. The simple faith and mutual support of believers facing extreme Islamic persecution is convicting. The story honestly presents the kindness and response of devout Islamic people who are deeply touched by the goodness of God's servants. In stark contrast is the immorality of unjust trials, lies and manipulation of the Islamic Taliban. Yet, God blessed them with everything they needed to survive: courage, assistance, wisdom, and help from the most unlikely sources. It is easy to see what we already know; God miraculously cares for each of us.
This book is well written, honest, inspiring and easy to enjoy. I heartily recommend it.(less)