Monday, November 11, 2013

Review for "Living the Quaker Way" by Philip Gulley

As a Christian reader, "Living the Quaker Way" by Philip Gulley was a disappointment. It seems that being Quaker has little to do with religion or a belief in Christ. It is more of a mindset that embraces traditional Quaker hallmarks: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. These are admirable qualities that I believe enhance the intentional life. However, separated from real faith they are little more than new-age, humanistic, feel-good mantras. According to Gulley, one can embrace any faith, or even no faith, and still live the "Quaker" way. I can't help but think his Quaker forefathers would be disappointed. Nevertheless, the discussion of the Quaker hallmarks poses some interesting questions and spurs deeper thought about one's way of life. I give the book 2 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of this book for purposes of review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing and am not required to give a positive review.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Review for "Runaway Emotions" by Jeff Schreve

Emotions. People try to change them, ignore them, make decisions based on them, believe or disbelieve them. In "Runaway Emotions," author Jeff Schreve makes his case for the proper place of emotions in a Christian's life. Schreve likens emotions to smoke alarms in our life. They alert us that some basic need in our life is "on fire," in other words, threatened. If we pay attention to the underlying cause of our emotions then we can constructively deal with the deeper issues. Shreve dedicates a chapter to each of these emotions: embarrassment, loneliness, frustration, worry, anger, guilt, discontentment, and depression. The book is written to Christians from a biblical perspective. Not technically a "self-help" book, it actually has great potential for the reader to help themselves with emotional problems! The examples are practical and relate real life and scripture. Personal stories help the reader connect his/her own story with the principles shared. The book is well written, an easy read, and a helpful discussion on how to maturely handle emotions in a way that results in personal and spiritual growth. 4 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of the book for purposes of review from Booksneeze (Thomas Nelson Publishers), and am not required to give a positive review.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review for "Fearless" by Eric Blehm

Adam Brown is a modern day hero. Like many heroes, his life was humble, his story largely unknown except to those in his circle. I am so glad that Eric Blehm took the initiative to tell Adam's story! It is a heart-tugging, inspiring, motivating story. What makes this book so captivating is the man who is it's hero. Eric Blehm presents Adam Brown in full color, no blemishes removed, but also in full glory. Adam went through some very dark times - as a young person enjoying success and popularity but then feeling lost and aimless and turning to drugs. Adam's family and friends persisted for years in loving him, and eventually, strengthened by their faith in him, Adam courageously fought his drug addiction and became a selfless member of the elite Navy SEAL Team SIX. "Undaunted" is a word that keeps coming to mind as one reads Adam's story. He faced emotional and physical barriers to becoming a Navy SEAL, but refused to give up or give in. His wife, Kelley, was steadfast in her belief in Adam and likewise undaunted by the extreme challenges that life as his wife brought. It's a great story about an extraordinary man who rose above every challenge in his life until the moment he gave his life on a mission of freedom. It is also a testament to the brotherhood of the members of the SEAL Team SIX. Not having a military background myself, I enjoyed this glimpse into that elite group. It was obvious to me how much Adam's SEAL brothers thought of him, how highly his family and friends regarded him, and how unselfish his life and service to his family and country were. This is a book men and women alike would enjoy. It is a story that deserves to be told, a story that in turn is inspiring others to face their own challenges. I received this book on a complimentary basis from Waterbrook Multhomah Publishers for purposes of review, and am not required to give a positive review. 5 out of 5 stars. For more information, visit the website: www.fearlessnavyseal.com

Review for "I've Got Your Back" by James Galvin

"A leadership parable" is the subtitle for this new book by James Galvin, and that's exactly what it is. Galvin presents his leadership principles in story form. It's the story of four young adults who are having difficulty in their work situations. They seek out the advice and counsel of a retired Army Sargeant and former missionary. The leadership ideas he presents are put into play in their specific situations, with varying and sometimes surprising results! The book is in two parts: the first is the parable; followed by a smaller section concisely stating a summary of the leadership principles. Galvin indicates in the introduction that he wanted to create a book on leadership that the younger generation would actually read. I believe his choice of presenting ideas in the form of a story is clever. The book reads more like a novel but is full of leadership nuggets. As a story it is somewhat shallow and unrealistic, but taken for what it is - a fleshed-out leadership model - it rates as one of the more interesting books on leadership I have read. The premise of Galvin's leadership principle is that everyone needs to learn how to follow well before they can lead well. I appreciated this perspective. I have run into many "bosses" who were "toxic" in their leadership, and wish I knew then what Galvin presents here about following well even when the leader does not lead well. It's a humble, servant-minded perspectve. I recommend this book for anyone who is in the early stages of their career, positioned under another's leadership, or already leading. There is wisdom here to keep us all learning and growing. 4 out of 5 stars. For more information on the book, you may visit www.tenthpowerpublishing.com/ivegotyourback

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review for "Search and Rescue" by Colleen Coble and Robin Caroll

Emily O'Reilly is an eighth-grader who loves everything to do with Search-and-Rescue. Her dream is to have her own search and rescue dog, and she goes to work making jewelry to sell in order to buy a dog. Little did she know that her jewelry would get her involved with a case of jewelry theft! Emily must prove her innocence and restore her reputation. The story takes her and the Search-and-Rescue dogs on a series of adventures. This was a quick and enjoyable read. It kept my 12-year-old daughter's attention and she found it entertaining. Since her age group is the desired audience, I will give her opinion. The story was engaging and fun. Some of the characters were strange, such as the group of native Americans and their religious beliefs. She found the ending unsatisfactory since some issues were left unresolved. Still, the book integrated the Christian faith of a teenager into an interesting story. Recommended especially for girls. 4 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers (Booksneeze) for purposes of review, and am not required to give a positive review.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review for Andy Stanley's "Next Generation Leader"

Andy Stanley, the gifted communicator and pastor of Northpoint church, has condensed much of his teaching on leadership into one great book. True to his own calling as a leader, Andy is dedicated to coaching others to become better leaders as well. "Next Generation Leader" is especially for up and coming leaders who wish to learn from the wisdom of those older and more experienced, but it is full of leadership principles that are applicable to a leader throughout his/her life. Andy addresses 5 essentials for leaders: competence, courage, clarity, coaching, and character. Leaders are encouraged to accomplish more by doing less, have the courage to take risks, manage uncertainty, recruit and learn from a coach, and safeguard their integrity. The book is a quick and easy read without being simplistic. It is full of great nuggets of wisdom, questions to ask, ideas to try, and stories illustrating the principles discussed. As is true of all Andy's books, it is down to earth, honest, and in a personal and engaging style. Questions at the end of each chapter are a great help for the individual or for group study. I believe anyone in leadership, no matter how experienced, will find several truths worth discovering and implementing from this winner of a book. I received a complimentary copy for purposes of review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing and am not required to give a favorable review. 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review for "Gods at War" by Kyle Idleman

Every heart is a battleground for our allegiance. What keeps us from following God with our whole heart? Author Kyle Idleman asserts that while we may point to particular temptations or sins as the answer, at the root of every sin is an idol that claims our heart's worship. Kyle explores several areas of power including: food, sex, entertainment, success, money, achievement, family, romance, and self. Each chapter includes insightful questions to help the reader discern where in their own life there may be a struggle with one of these "idols." This was a great book! I found it challenging and insightful. I liked it because it was scriptural and blunt, not tiptoeing around issues but asking penetrating questions and giving practical examples. Kyle's style is fun and lighthearted to read. He includes humorous footnotes and allusions to pop culture that 30-40-somethings will identify well with. I found myself laughing one moment and then feeling the truth hit home the next. Young authors sometimes try too hard to be funny and relevant to today's culture and end up with watered-down fluff for content. Kyle does not make that mistake, this book is full of mature insights. The questions at the end of each chapter would be good for personal reflection or discussion with a study group. 5 out of 5 stars. I received this book on a complimentary basis for purposes of review from Booksneeze (Thomas Nelson Publishers) and am not required to give a favorable review.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review for "The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant" by Terry Felber

When I saw that Dave Ramsey wrote the forward for this book, I knew it would be good - and I was not disappointed! This great little story is a quick read packed with truths about building wealth, using marketplace skills for God's kingdom, and being a businessperson of integrity. The twelve truths are couched in a believable little story about a merchant and his grandson several hundred years ago, when Venice was a center of world trade and the grandiose cathedral St. Peter's was being built at the Vatican. The engaging backdrop is the setting for the transferring of wisdom from one generation to the next. The monk represents those in the ministry vocation, and the merchant those in business. The merchant explains how he learned that his role in the marketplace is no less a calling than the full-time minister's calling. The idea that wealth is bad is refuted. Instead, those God has gifted with the ability to innovate in business and generate wealth have the privilege and responsibility of doing their best in the marketplace and in turn supporting kingdom work. The principles of the merchant and his wealth apply to everyday, middle class people too; people who want to do their best with their income and want to honor God. The study guide at the end of the book is great. I can easily see myself doing this with a small group or discussing with a friend. For anyone in business or who is interested in the topic of wealth-building and integrity, this is a great edition! 5 stars out of 5 stars. I was provided with a complimentary copy for purposes of review by BookSneeze of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and am not required to give a positive review.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review for "Sent" by Hilary Alan

The subtitle, "How One Ordinary Family Traded the American Dream for God's Greater Purpose" sums up this book. Hilary Alan describes the journey she and her family took in following God's leading to uproot and relocate in Southeast Asia to do missionary and relief work following the tsunami. Alan speaks with honesty about the struggles she had in reaching this decision, implementing the decision, and living in a foreign country. First, what I liked about this book was the challenge of a personal story from an ordinary American family. If God could use them, then He can use me! Many times I found myself asking, "Would I be willing to do that?" and hungering for the sense of purpose that the Alan family found. The story is told with honest detail from a relational perspective. I could identify with Hilary as a mom and a wife. Some things that I thought could have been improved on in the book were the organization and the style. There were too many chapters and they were too short for me. Each one dealt with one specific aspect of the decision/journey, and I would have like to see them combined into more broad themes. Also, the style was a little casual and the sentences short. This makes the book an easy read... I however would have enjoyed a little more literary meat. All in all, it is a great story worth telling, and also worth reading. 3 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of the book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for purposes of review, and am not required to give a positive review.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review for "The Fantasy Fallacy" by Shannon Ethridge

I have enjoyed Shannon Ethridge's refreshing honesty and direct handling of tough topics for women in the Every Woman's Battle series, and she delivers great writing and counsel in this book as well! The Fantasy Fallacy is a response, in part, to the bestselling book "Fifty Shades of Grey." Ethridge takes this opportunity of the exposed erotica in a woman's mind to explore where these thoughts arise from and how a Christian woman can allow the Holy Spirit to guide her through them. True to her compassionate style, Ethridge is honest but never judgmental. Christian women likely have no place they feel comfortable asking questions about sexual thoughts and fantasies, so to read her sensible, God-honoring advice is even comforting. Some of the topics covered by the book are retraining our mental focus, the fascination with pornography, multiple partners, gay and lesbian desires, BDSM (bondage, domination, and sadomasochism. There is no prescription in the book as to how to behave. Rather, Ethridge encourages the reader to look deeper into the sexual desires in order to understand the root causes and needs, then allow God to meet those needs and help us along a more healthy path. I believe every woman deals at some level with sexual fantasies. Whether the reader is simply curious, knows someone dealing with sexual issues, or is herself involved some of the sexual fantasies described, this book will be informative, sensitive, and helpful. 4.5 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of the book for purposes of review from BookSneeze (Thomas Nelson Publishers) and am not required to give a positive review.