August 2, 2010

Vacation Reading List

Filed under: Book Reviews — Neil @ 8:00 pm

The Shack by William Young
Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears
Simple Student Ministry by Eric Geiger & Jeff Borton
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
Scouting the Divine by Margaret Feinberg


May 29, 2010

Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

Filed under: Book Reviews,Videos — Neil @ 11:45 am

Best story I’ve read since…I’m not sure.  I began reading it yesterday afternoon & only stopped to eat supper.  Incredible story of the lives of 2 men.  I suggest purchasing it, but only begin reading it when you have the time to read the entire book.

For more about the book visit its website.
Purchase it from Amazon.

May 25, 2010


Filed under: Book Reviews,High School Ministry,Videos,Youth Ministry — Neil @ 3:44 pm

This summer we have a group of our high school juniors & seniors who are going to go through a study on  Radical.  It came out about a month ago & I’ve just finished going through it w/ our summer intern.  Can’t wait to see how a few of our really spiritual mature high school students grow as a result of this study.

If you are looking for a book study for mature high school students, college students or adults I highly recommend checking out Radical.  There is a bible study curriculum that is offered to go along w/ it as well.

Warning:  If you don’t want to be challenged you should avoid Radical.

May 18, 2010

Book Review: Louder Than Words

Filed under: Book Reviews — Neil @ 2:00 pm

I recently read Louder Than Words by Andy Stanley w/ a group of guys that I serve with.  It’s a really good read that I highly recommend.  It boils down to a study on character.  Stanley writes that it’s our character that is the backbone for our leadership.

The 1st chapter is 1 of my favorites.  It’s all about change.  He writes that everyday we are changing.  “Your character is not stagnant, but is either developing or deteriorating.  You are not the same person you were yesterday.”

He defines character as “the will to do what is right, as defined by God, regardless of personal cost.”  It’s the storms of life that God uses to develop our character.  The idea of obstacles shaping us is woven throughout the book & how God is more concerned w/ our development than He is in our happiness in the moment.

I’d recommend it to just about anyone.  It would be really good for men’s groups.  It could be used w/ mature high school or college students.  You can order a copy from Amazon by clicking here.

May 3, 2010

Book Review: Plan B by Pete Wilson

Filed under: Book Reviews — Neil @ 6:00 am

Plan B by Pete Wilson, pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, is written to help us understand “what to do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought He would.”  It is written to primarily a Christian audience to help us understand/interpret life when things don’t go according to our plan or even what we think is God’s plan.  Pete uses many personal stories from his life & from those in his church to communicate.

The personal stories that are woven throughout the book made it very appealing to me.   He typically used the stories to open & close each chapter.   At times I’d catch myself wanting to skip ahead to find out what happened.

One of the strongest parts of the book is in chapter 13, Transformation Through Tragedy.  He writes that we are often too selfish in how we think that life has been unfair to us.  Rather it may just be that God is trying to shape us more into who He wants us to be.  What we view as a “plan B” may actually be God’s “plan A” for our lives.

Plan B would be a great gift to someone who has gone through a tragedy or an unwanted/unexpected life change.  It’s written from the heart of a pastor to a group of people that he identifies w/ & clearly cares deeply for.

My 1 negative for Plan B is the lengthy retelling of Scripture passages.   I appreciate the Scriptural support for his views, but the complete retelling of the book of Ruth was a bit much.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

March 7, 2010

Book Review: How to Reach Your Full Potential for God by Charles Stanley

Filed under: Book Reviews — Neil @ 9:03 pm

I’ve recently completed reading How to Reach Your Full Potential for God by Charles Stanley.  Here’s my review of it.

The title of the book scared/worried me a bit.  I was scared that it was going to fall into the genre of Christian self-help, books or ideas that focus on simply adjusting our behavior rather than the  redemption of our sinful nature.  My assumptions were proven false as I read through the text.

The book’s main idea is that we’ll reach our full potential for God when we live lives that are completely surrendered to him.  Each of the book’s chapters identifies areas of our lives that we can improve in order to live a life that is fully devoted to him.  This quote from chapter eleven sums up the book “I choose to obey God and leave all the consequences to him.”

The book opens by reminding the reader that he/she is created in the image of God & He designed him/her to fulfill God’s purposes.  We are created to live lives full of purpose and meaning.  Dr. Stanley’s passion for this topic is very evident in the book’s opening pages as he retells the story of God giving him this message initially to preach to his congregation.

The book is extremely practical.  It gives a theological basis, but emphasizes the practical implications that the reader can apply to his/her life.  The end of each chapter contains the personal story from someone who is living out the principles presented in the chapter.  For me the best part of the book is chapters 8-11.  I wished I’d read those words as I began full-time ministry 10+ years ago.  Chapter 9, A Balanced Schedule, should be required reading for all young ministers.

I recommend this book to any Christian who is desiring to take the next step in their relationship with Christ.  It would be especially good for someone who feels they’ve gotten stuck in a spiritual rut.

A few of my favorite quotes:

  • Your job is to discover the talents that God has placed in you, to develop them, and to begin to use them as the Lord brings opportunities for service or ministry.
  • Are you moving with confidence toward a desired goal?
  • Always keep in mind that your race is your race and no one else’s.
  • You cannot reach your full potential in your own strength and ability.
  • You cannot reach your God-given potential if you allow anything other than Him to define your world, you as a human being, or what is wise to take into your life.
  • What we do today sets the foundation for the life we can and will live tomorrow.

I was provided w/ a free copy of How to Reach Your Full Potential for God by Thomas Nelson as a part of their Book Sneeze program.  Click the link below for more information on Book Sneeze.

I review for BookSneeze

November 2, 2009

Book Review: Have A Little Faith

Filed under: Book Reviews,Videos — Neil @ 10:00 am

Have A Little Faith was given to everyone who attended Catalyst.  It’s author, Mitch Albom, was interviewed as a part of the conference.  Mitch is known from Tuesdays with Morrie & Five People You Meet in Heaven.  I’ve known him due to him being a sportswriter (Detroit Free Press) & a regular on ESPN’s Sports Reporters (the original & best version of what makes up much of sports programming today).

Have A Little Faith is Mitch’s story of him getting to know his rabbi & an inner-city pastor in Detroit.  For me as a minister it was interesting to read his views of religious leaders.  How he knew his rabbi as his spiritual leader, but didn’t know him personally.

It was also interesting to read to see how Albom’s Jewish faith interacts w/ the Christian minister & church in inter-city Detroit.  The pastor’s (it’s worth the price of the book just to read of how God delivered him from addictions & a life of crime) church is located in old decaying building, but he’s still reaching out to the poor & homeless.  Although, their faith isn’t the same, they find common ground in helping the hungry & homeless.

Mitch’s writing is incredibe & the topic/story was intriguing.  I began reading it last Friday, & didn’t put it down for several hours & finished up the last few pages a few nights later.

A few quotes that stood out to me:

  • Man likes to run from God.
  • The most inspirational man I knew only reached his potential by helping a child reach his.
  • Faith is about doing.  You are who you act, not just how you believe.
  • I was amazed at how a man who was supposed to be available for so many people could somehow be available for each one of them.
  • Having more does not keep you from wanting more.
  • Getting old, we can deal with.  Being old is the problem.

To read more about Albom & Have A Little Faith click here.  To purchase it at Amazon click here.

October 30, 2009

Book Review: Incarnate Leadership

Filed under: Book Reviews — Neil @ 11:00 am

Incarnate Leadership was a book I received through the Catalyst Filter.  I’d never heard of it & likely wouldn’t have ever purchased/read it otherwise (1 of things I like about the Catalyst Filter  is that introduces me to new/different authors).  It’s author, Bill Robinson, is the president of Whitworth University.

Servant Leadership has been a popular term (style of leadership?) for at least the past decade.  I’ve read much on the topic.  However, it often seems that servant leadership is taught as a leadership technique so that the leader can achieve his goals.  It’s an end to a means rather than truly servant leadership.  This book doesn’t hint of alterior motives for servant leadership.

The author takes leadership principles from the life of Jesus & applies them to how Christian leaders are to lead.  It’s powerful, but it’ll also challenge your view of leadership.  Many of his examples are his personal shortcomings & strengths in leading a Christian university. 

This quote in the 1st chapter sums up the book “Perhaps our desire to be good leaders has elbowed its way in front of our desire to be imitators of Christ.”  Robinson states the book’s puropse as “I do not intened to describe how Jesus led; others have done that well.  Rather, I invite you to think with me about some of the tough, paradoxical challenges in leading with a different kind of authorityh than one that comes from your title, your office, your salary, or your degrees.”

A few quotes that stood out to me:

  • I think we have done better job of making Christ the center of our faith than the center of our leadership.
  • With no venture capital, no budget, and no formal orginzation, he changed the world; and two thousand years later he’s still changing it.
  • People love to see leaders on their turf.
  • The most powerful position of leadership is beside those God calls us to lead.
  • I’m not sure there has been a more corrosive leadership practice than secrecy and unnecessary confidentiality.
  • The best leaders want thinkers in their organizations.  Less talent is needed to obey a rule than to make a well-reasoned decision.
  • Values are smarter than rules.
  • What makes us think God gets mad about homosexuality, but he’s a good sport about pride?
  • My most deadly enemy is me.
  • We pick and choose how we want to be like Jesus.  But mostly we want Jesus to be like us.
  • We could accomplish much if we didn’t care about receiving credit.
  • Leadership without sacrifice is not Christian leadership.

You can read more about the author by clicking here.  You can purchase Incarnate Leadership by clicking here.

October 29, 2009

Book Review: Forgotten God

Filed under: Book Reviews — Neil @ 6:00 pm

Not sure why, but I’ve gotten out of the habit of posting book reviews of what I’ve been reading.  I want catch up on everything I’ve read in the past 6 months?, but I’ll post reviews of the 3 books (Forgotten God, Incarnate Leadership & Have A Little Faith) I’ve read most recently.

I’m a huge Francis Chan fan.  I’ve heard him speak several times & last summer I even got to spend a couple of hours with him prior to a youth event he was speaking at.  He’s 1st book, Crazy Love, was revolutionary for me.  I say all that to say that before I ever opened Forgotten God I was expecting to really enjoy reading it.

A lparagraph in the Introduction  grabbed my mind’s attention the 1st time I read it & I’m still wrestling w/ the idea.   Chan writes:

But what if you grew up on a desert island with nothing but the Bible to read?  Imagine being rescued after twenty years and then attending a typical evangelical church.  Chances are you’d be shocked (for a whole lot of reasons, but that is another story).  Having read the Scriptures outside the context of contemporary church culture, you would be convinced that the Holy Spirit is as essential to a believer’s existence as air is to staying alive.  You would know that the Spirit led the first Christians to do unexplainable things, to live lives that didn’t make sense to the culture around them, and ultimately to spread the story of God’s grace around the world.”

That’s a dangerous thought to think about.  Forgotten God is full of challenging/thought provoking ideas about how we (typical American Christians) have ignored the Holy Spirit.  It’s a good read, but not necessarily enjoyable because of how convicting I found it in how I’ve ignored the Spirit in my own life.

Chan is able to break through the stereotypes we’ve placed on the Holy Spirit & those we characterize as focusing on the Spirit too much.  He does so be relying on Scripture to describe the Holy Spirit.  That should be the norm, but unfortunately it seems we depend on tradition more than Scripture to shape our beliefs.

At the end of each chapter he provides stories from the lives of individuals who are living a Spirit filled life.  It helped me to see how others are living out a life that is dependent on the Holy Spirit.  It’s also great to see an author/pastor to use people from his own church as examples.

A few statements that stood out to me:

  • The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes purely a human creation.
  • When we are referring to God, balance is a huge mistake.  I have yet to meet anyone with too much Holy Spirit.
  • The problem is much of what we believe is often based more on comfort or our culture’s tradition than on the Bible.
  • There is much more to God and following  in the Way of Jesus than getting a bunch of talented people together to hold a church service.
  • Regardless of your background, are you willing to set it aside and just respond to biblical truth?
  • What would your church (and the worldwide church) look like if everyone was as committed as you are?
  • You only need the Holy Spirit’s guidance and help if you truly want to follow the Way of Jesus Christ.

You can purchase Forgotten God by clicking here.

June 23, 2009

Book Review: Axiom

Filed under: Book Reviews — Neil @ 6:00 am

After completing Purple Cow the book that has been @ the top of my reading list (it was moved from my reading on deck circle @ Parkway, to my bedside table, & then finally to the on deck circle on my my new desk @ fbcj) was Axiom.  It’s been recommended my several friends, but the primary reason for purchasing it was it’s author, Bill Hybels.

Bill is the pastor of Willow Creek.  He’s blazed a trail for the church.  In addition to be an amazing pastor/preacher/leader he’s a more than capable author.  To read his wiki bio click here.

Axiom reads a bit like Proverbs.  It’s filled w/ leadership axioms that he’s developed over the course of his ministry.  After stating each principle he then gives insight over the next page or 2.

I highly recommend it.  It’s the best leadership book I’ve read in some time.  Bill is a pastor & it’s written for ministry leaders, but I’m confident that it would be useful to anyone in a leadership position.

It’s a book that I’ll continue to go back to time & again.

To purchase Axiom from Amazon click here.

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