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Thoughts on the Christian life in a fallen world

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Grit To Great - Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Thaler

How perseverance, passion, and pluck take you from ordinary to extraordinary. The authors are also the authors if The Power of Nice. They acknowledge right off the bat that grit is a "somewhat old fashioned term" that means " sweat, not swagger" and "character not charisma" They chronicle their own start of the Kaplan Thayer Group advertising agency, that has grown to $3 billion in Billings, and over 800 employees.
Also the four ingredients of grit. Guts, resilience, initiative, and tenacity. At the end of every chapter are some action steps called Grit Builders, which are steps to take to put the information into practice. In the chapter titled the talent myth, the two talk about how they did a presentation and gained the business of fast food giant Wendys. The book is actually full of personal examples of using grit to accomplish goals. In the chapter, Lose the safety net, they tell the story of Nik Wallenda and his tightrope walking, and actually interviewed him.The chapter titled,  Get into wait training,  talks about psychology and delayed gratification and waiting. "It's on these moments of boredom or inactivity that we can be our most creative, solve problems, engage with the world around us, and train ourselves to accept that we don't always have to feel busy to be fulfilled." This is very good advice for all of us. This book reminded me of similar booms by Malcolm Gladwell that talk about what success is, and what it's not. And how some people are surprised that success is not what people think.
I enjoyed reading about success others have had using grit to become great. It is encouraging to hear about success among seemingly ordinary folks that seem to be nothing special on the outside, but have grit on the inside.
I have been provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Divine Applause - Jeff Anderson

Secrets and rewards of walking with an invisible God. Answers the question, How will God make himself known to you? The author has interlaced personal stories and experiences with Biblical insights. The author is known for his approach to discipleship that combines scripture and story.
Page 2 starts right out with, "What child of God wouldn't long for more direct, more personal encounters with his or her father?"
Some would say we already have that in the Bible, and the author does mention Moses, David, John the Baptist, Peter, Enoch and Noah as examples.  I do believe the author is relating the Bible to his experiences, which may not necessarily be the same with everyone.  He has the story of how he met a woman named Mrs. Whythe, and his encounters with her at various times and places, and he admitted that this was out of his comfort zone.  With chapter titles such as God is Interested, The power of choices that please God, and Trading Up, the book is divided into three parts. Seeing differently, Bold steps, and Walking upward. I enjoyed his honest reactions and feelings at times, and just about everyone can relate to being out of their comfort zone at one time or another.
When I first saw the chapter titled,Secrets with God, I was a bit apprehensive, but after reading through i can understand his point that is based on Matthew 6, and Mary in Luke 2:19. He is also right about social media and not everything needs to be a facebook post.
The author has written a previous book called Plastic Donuts about giving. He has had a unique background, being a CPA and a professional black jack player and day trader. In 2010 he began AcceptableGift.org in which he speaks and writes about giving.
Overall, a very readable book and recommended by Dr.. Tony Evans and Dr. Richard Blakaby.
Published by Multnomah publishing, www.waterbrookmultnomah.com.
I have been provided with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this un-biased review.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Kingdom Come- Reggie McNeal

Why we must give up our obsession with fixing the church-and what we should do instead.
Published by Tyndale publishing.
Early in the introduction Mr. McNeal states his central idea, "the purpose of the church is to further God's kingdom." Whatever else we may be doing or disagree on, that is the central theme of all we do. The author's dad was a Southern Baptist preacher and he joined the church at an early age. He holds Mdiv and PHD from Southern Baptist Seminary.
There is a reason Jesus taught us to pray Thy kingdom come, and not Thy church come.
On page 51 he states, "God desires our obedience and joyful participation, but the success of his agenda doesn't depend on our decisions or efforts." This speaks to the sovereignty of God, and that His plans will prevail. However, on page 37, he states, "We have a choice to self-select whether we want to be in our out of the Kingdom of God." This speaks to man's free will. Not quite sure where he stand on the subject of Reformed theology with these two statements. Regardless, he does make some good points about the church, such as, "Everywhere we go the church is." This is the idea of the church not being a building, but the people of God, his chosen, His elect, who He has called to be in this world, but not of the world.
I like the idea of only 9 chapters, it simplifies the ideas. So many other books about the church get bogged down in many sub-headings, and frankly too many words. Chapter titles such as My Journey into the Kingdom, Challenging the Church's Story line, make for good reading. I can appreciate how he makes it a call to action for the church itself to make some changes.
There is a Discussion guide included with questions for each chapter for use in group study.
He talks about cooperation and collaboration, and despite some issues, we all can use more of that.

Gaining By Losing - J. D. Greear

Why the future belongs to churches that send. "Bringing in large groups of people to hear a message is good, training up disciples and sending them out is better." the author points out  the introduction.  Without planting, there will be no harvest, and to follow Jesus is to be sent. Go into all the world. Mr. Greear reviews his church's and his own personal journey towards becoming a sending church in chapter 2 titled, Our (painful) journey toward sending. the book is divided into 2 parts with to appendixes. Part two is devoted to the ten sending plum lines. Each chapter is dedicated to one of these plum lines such as, "The Gospel is not just the diving board, it's the pool, Everyone is called, and the week is as important as the weekend. Extra points in my book for quoting Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon. I also saw that the author has written an article for the latest Tabletalk magazine.
Appendix 1 is a 20 page instruction on setting up and International Missions strategy. Appendix 2 is a instruction on developing a domestic church planting strategy.  Throughout it is a thought out plan, but maybe a bit too business like and goal oriented for my tastes. J. D. Greear is pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina,and is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of "Stop asking Jesus into your heart." Even though this book is mostly about church planting and sending, the author has some Reformed theology thrown in.
The big question comes in the middle of the book, in the chapter titled, The point in everything is to make disciples, If a ministry doesn't make disciples, why does it exist? A great question, and one that a lot churches should be asking.
published by Zondervan.