Category : Books

Books
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Divine Direction

Book: Divine Direction
Author: Craig Groeschel
Amazon Link: Click here

From The Publisher:

Every day we make choices. And those choices accumulate and eventually become our life story. What would your life look like if you became an expert at making those choices?
In this inspiring guidebook, New York Times bestselling author Craig Groeschel shows how the choices that are in your power, if aligned with biblical principles, will lead to a life you’ve never imagined.
Divine Direction will help you seek wisdom through seven principles. You’ll consider one thing to stop that’s hindering you; how to start a new habit to re-direct your path; where you should stay committed; and when you should go even if it’s easier to stay. The book also includes criteria that will help you feel confident in the right choice, and encourages you with principles for trusting God with your decisions.
What story do you want to tell about yourself? God is dedicated to the wonderful plan he’s laid out for you. The achievable and powerful steps in Divine Direction take you there one step at a time, big, or small.

Other Review:

Craig Groeschel has written another terrific book. I haven’t stood behind him watching him make his decisions, but I’ve seen him stand behind the ones he’s made, both the easy ones and the hard ones. These are true words from a humble guy who lives what he talks about. (―Bob Goff, author, New York Times bestselling Love Does)

Not many people can write a book that makes following God look easy. But that’s exactly what Pastor Craig Groeschel has done in this down-to-earth, practical, life-giving message. This isn’t just another book about decision making; it’s more about the story of our whole lives that our daily decisions create. We don’t have to live by chance; we can live on purpose, on course, and part of the larger story God is weaving on the earth. (―Judah Smith, lead pastor, The City Church; author, New York Times bestselling Jesus Is)

I believe our daily choices take us into our lifelong destiny. That’s why I am so excited that Craig Groeschel’s book Divine Direction challenges us on those small choices. This book will help you to see even the smallest decisions through the lens of God’s purpose as he calls you to step into his divine direction for your life. As someone who has learned the hard way about the power of good and bad choices, the principles in Divine Direction really resonate with me. If you’re ready to get out of your rut and make better decisions, Craig’s message is a great place to start your new journey. (―Dave Ramsey, bestselling author; nationally syndicated radio show host)

This book by Pastor Craig Groeschel is a must-read for anyone who has been stuck not knowing what God has planned for their life or how they should be listening to his lead. I’m so thankful for people like Craig who can come alongside us with wisdom, humor, and insight! (―Jefferson Bethke, author, New York Times bestseller Jesus > Religion)

When I have a big decision to make, after consulting God and my wife, the first person I go to for guidance is Craig Groeschel. His God-given ability to isolate the important issues and distill biblical wisdom into action steps is second to none. Divine Direction is your access point to these life-changing insights. (―Steven Furtick, pastor, Elevation Church; New York Times bestselling author)

Craig Groeschel has written a practical yet spiritually grounded book that is certain to help you decide on your next steps in life. In Divine Direction, Craig unpacks seven decisions you can make today that will influence the stories you tell in the future. (―Andy Stanley, senior pastor, North Point Ministries)

There was once a form of capital punishment practiced in China called ling chi—death by a thousand cuts. None of the incisions were a big deal, but together they were lethal. In Divine Direction, Pastor Craig Groeschel will help you avoid living a life of a thousand cuts. (―Levi Lusko, senior pastor, Fresh Life Church; author, Swipe Right)

We often want to know what God’s will is for our lives. The answer may be a little different for each of us, but Divine Direction will give you a great framework for finding out what your story can be. With simple, practical, achievable goals, Craig helps us see the little steps that make a big difference in our lives. (―Kyle Idleman, author, Grace Is Greater)

My Observation:

I loved this book. It is vintage Craig G. He cuts straight to it and gives great info. Something I am going to add to my yearly list.

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Fresh Wind Fresh Fire

Book: Fresh Wind Fresh Fire
Author: Jim Cymbala
Amazon Link: Click here

From Publishers Weekly:

The Times Are Urgent
God Is on the Move
Now Is the Moment to …

ask God to ignite his fire in your soul!

Pastor Jim Cymbala believes that Jesus wants to renew his people—to call us back from spiritual dead ends, apathy, and lukewarm religion.

Cymbala knows the difference firsthand. Thirty-five years ago his own church, the Brooklyn Tabernacle, was a struggling congregation of twenty. Then they began to pray … God began to move … street-hardened lives by the hundreds were changed by the love of Christ … and today they are more than ten thousand strong.

The story of what happened to this broken-down church in one of America’s toughest neighborhoods points the way to new spiritual vitality in the church and in your own life. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire shows what the Holy Spirit can do when believers get serious about prayer and the gospel. As this compelling book reveals, God moves in life-changing ways when we set aside our own agendas, take him at his word, and listen for his voice.

 

My Observation:

This book is something every Christian should read. It reminds me to never underestimate the importance and power of prayer. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes and ideas:

  • God is more powerful than anybody’s past, no matter how wretched. He can make us forget – not by erasing the memory but by taking the sting and paralyzing effect out of it.
  • It may not seem obvious at first glance, but the way we make decisions in life tells a lot about the kind of faith we have in Jesus Christ.
  • No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer.
  • Jesus called fishermen, not graduates of rabbinical schools. The main requirement was to be natural and sincere.
  • I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf.
  • Faith never denies reality but leaves room for God to grant a new reality.
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The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands (Book Review)

Book: The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands
Author: Lysa TerKeurst
Amazon Link: Click here

From The Publisher:

Are you living with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and aching with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul?

Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. In The Best Yes she will help you:

Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom based decision-making process.
Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your best yes today.

My Observation:

This book is meant for ladies but I actually enjoyed it. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes and ideas:

  • We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.
  • Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less.
  • The decisions you make today matter. Every decision points your life in the direction you are about to travel. No decision is an isolated choice. It’s a chain of events. If you choose wisely, your future will reflect that. But if you don’t choose wisely, the decisions you make now will take you to places you don’t want to be later.
  • The one who obeys God’s instruction for today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow.
  • Not making a decision is actually a decision. It’s the decision to stay the same
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Three of My Favorite Study Bibles

What is a Study Bible? A Study Bible is a Bible with extra notes to explain what you just read. Many of them go even further than that. They will have maps to show you the region it was written, character studies of famous Biblical people, currency conversion charts, and so much more.

If you are serious about getting deeper in your walk with God, you need a Study Bible in your life. Here are three I highly recommend:

The Life Application Study Bible

Why I like it: This was the first type of Study Bible I ever used. I still have wonderful memories reading through the pages of my Study Bible and learning so much from the commentaries. It is still one of my go to Bibles for devotional reading. (along with the others on this list.)

Link to buy it: click here

Publishers Notes: Today’s best-selling study Bible―the Life Application Study Bible―has been updated and expanded. Over 300 new Life Application notes, nearly 350 note revisions, 16 new personality profiles, updated charts, and a Christian Worker’s Resource make today’s number one selling study Bible even better.

FEATURES: Over 300 new Life Application notes and significant revisions to nearly 350 others
16 new Personality Profiles
Most charts revised to clarify meaning and importance, plus eight all-new charts
New information on the intertestamental period
Christian Worker’s Resource, a special supplement to enhance the reader’s ministry effectiveness, includes: How to Become a Believer, How to Follow Up with a New Believer, Mining the Treasures of the Life Application Study Bible, So You’ve Been Asked to Speak, and Taking the Step to Application

The New Spirit Filled Life Bible

Why I like it: Dr Jack Hayford and many others use the margins of this Bible to teach us how to apply God’s Word in the context of New Testament theology.

Link to buy it: click here

Publishers Notes: Find the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible. Dr. Jack Hayford, founding pastor of The Church on the Way, has led a team of anointed leaders to produce the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible. This outstanding resource offers a fresh look at the Scriptures and the work of the Holy Spirit. This Bible addresses important issues of Spirit-filled living in the context of solid biblical scholarship.

Features include: Kingdom Dynamics – 41 themes throughout the Scripture that give us values as we advance the gospel throughout the world
Word Wealth – More than 550 key terms defined and brought to life pulling the language from the original Greek and Hebrew to everyday English
Truth-In-Action – Practical charts pulling out practical application from every book of the Bible
Detailed book introductions
Verse-by-verse study notes

Maxwell Leadership Bible

Why I like it: John Maxwell was a pastor for years before becoming the Leadership Guru we all know him for today. He actually said the reason he resigned being a pastor was because he noticed that the business world was a wasteland when it come to faith. He endeavored to change that. What I love the most about him is he writes his leadership books with ideas straight from the Bible and the business experts call him a genius. He always says, “It was there for over 2,000 years. I just put in a way they would read.” This Bible will give you great leadership principles to go along with your reading.

Link to buy it: click here

Publishers Notes: “John Maxwell is a nationally respected expert in leadership. This Bible provides an in-depth look at God’s laws for leaders and leadership. Now, you can get The Maxwell Leadership Bible in the best-selling New International Version. Plus, this 2nd edition includes new updates.

In this Bible, Dr. Maxwell explains what a godly leader is and how God is glorified when you accept the role you’re called to. It includes great articles and insights that will become an invaluable part of your leadership library. You’ll find 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader with lessons about Biblical characters who exemplified each. Over 100 biographical profiles feature stories that share God’s truth about leadership.

John C. Maxwell, a New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker, has been called America’s #1 leadership authority. To date, he has sold 25 million books. In 2014, Maxwell received the Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership from the Luminary Leadership Network, and was named the world’s most influential leadership expert by Inc. and Business Insider. His organizations ¬– The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, and EQUIP — have trained more than 5 million leaders in 188 countries.

This edition includes new empowering, inspiring tools to equip you to be an even better leader: Complete NIV Bible text and translators’ notes • Book introductions • Articles describing the 21 Laws of Leadership and the 21 Qualities of a Leader • Notes throughout the Bible that connect with the Laws and Qualities • Indexes to the 21 Laws of Leadership and the 21 Qualities of a Leader

The Maxwell Leadership Bible offers principles of leadership that will greatly impact the way you guide others. Order your copy today.

This Bible offers supplemental information on the following topics: Leadership Laws, Servanthood, Teachability, Vision, Control, Convictions, Correction, Credibility, Criticism, Decision Making, Delegation, Discipline, Encouragement, Equipping, Ethics, Planning, Power, Practicality, Pride, Priorities, Purpose, Responsibility, Restoration, Spirituality, Standards, Stewardship, Submission, Teamwork, Tolerance, Trust, Values, Wisdom”

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The Gift of Being Yourself (Book Review)

Book: The Gift of Being Yourself
Author: David Benner
Amazon Link: Click here

From Publishers Weekly:

In contrast to other books filled with drive-through pop psychology and sound-bite spirituality, Benner, a psychologist and spiritual director, offers an impressively deep and challenging introduction to Christian self-discovery in a little more than 100 pages. The foundational premise is that true knowledge of God and true knowledge of oneself are inextricably intertwined. For those who view such an approach as simply an accommodation to our culture’s obsession with self, Benner provides a multitude of quotes from historic, respected theologians such as Augustine and John Calvin. He offers a clear and practical outline for those seeking to begin the lifelong process of knowing God and knowing themselves in an authentic way. As a gift to Christian counselors everywhere, Benner explains the difference between authentic self-discovery and most psychological approaches. Without mentioning names, he uses the stories of “fallen” Christian leaders to illustrate how some Christians’ well-intentioned avoidance of self-discovery can become a deadly snare. His discussion of accepting our flaws and sins as a necessary step to transformation is a model of lucidity. Although self-knowledge is the subject, it becomes clear that transformation is the ultimate goal both of this book and of the journey it invites readers to begin.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

 

My Observation:

This book is definitely going to be on my “read again” list. I really enjoyed various sides to this thought-provoking. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes and ideas:

  • The best way to fulfill your calling is to be your authentic self.
  • Your calling is revealed in how God made you.
  • How to find out what to do? Mentally ask the twelve year old Jesus after being found in the temple, “What motivated you to do something like that and to know where to fulfill your calling.”
  • Don’t always assume your job equals your calling or that it has too.
  • Write out a personal mission statement about becoming the best “you” you can be.

 

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Paper or Digital Reading?

No one loves technology more than I do. I have just about every gadget that’s out there or I have a plan in place to get one. However, studies are beginning to roll out that says maybe the ‘old’ way of acquiring information is the best. More and more information is pointing to the fact that paper book reading is super to digital reading when it comes to retention. Below are some interesting articles I came across in my research.

 

1. Screen vs. paper: what is the difference for reading and learning?

2. Paper or Tablet? Reading Recall and Comprehension

3. Drop That Kindle! 10 Reasons Print Books Are Better Than E-Books

4. The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

5. Books vs. e-books: The science behind the best way to read

6. Reading from paper versus screens: a critical review of the empirical literature

7. 5 Reasons Physical Books Might Be Better Than E-Books

8. Paper Beats Digital In Many Ways, According To Neuroscience

9. Response: Reading Digitally vs. Reading Paper

10. Are Paper Books Better Than E-Books?

So, what does all this mean?

For me it means I am going to try and read more paperback books. I won’t say goodbye to my kindle just yet, however, there will be some changes in my reading schedule this year. How about you? Do you prefer paper back over digital?

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My Favorite Books of 2016

Up until a few years ago, I could not say I had read more than five books in my life time. Then, one day, I heard someone say, “Readers are leaders and leaders are readers.” That stuck with me and I slowly began developing the discipline of reading more. For the past few years now, I consistently read at least 100+ books a year and believe me, if I can do it you can do it. I’ll write another time on some tips to make it happen. You can also read a great article by Michael Hyatt’s about the importance of reading. For now, in NO PARTICULAR ODERS, here were some of my favorite books of 2016.

DISCLAIMER: These are on a variety of topics from a variety of genres.

The Revenant (Michael Punke)- This book reminds me that I have never really had a bad day.
Mentoring 101 (John Maxwell)- Great for learning about relational mentoring.
Silohs, Politics, and Turf Wars (Patrick Lencioni)- Managing office politics.
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whale Ship Essex (Nathaniel Philbrick)- I’m a sucker for true stories.
Leadership: Zig Ziglar (Zig Ziglar)- I need a good dose of Ziglar in my life constantly.
Lasting Impact (Carey Nieuwof)- Great strategies
Being George Washington (Glenn Beck)- One of the greatest leaders in history but goes unnoticed by many.
Unqualified (Steven Furtick)- Everyone should read this book.
Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success (Steve Harvey)- Steve is really smart about planning strategies to be successful.
The 5 1/2 Mile High Club (Craig Wendel)- Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Read it three times.
It Worked For Me (Colin Powell)- Great leadership principles and stories.
Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life (Tony Dungy)- Who doe not like Dungy?
Unashamed (Lecrae)-  Lecrae’s honestly and journey are worthy of our respect.
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters (Meg Meeker)- I could sum up this book as, “Be a strong man. Be there for your girls. Let her know she can trust you.”
The God I Never Knew (Robert Morris)- Amazing book on the Holy Spirit. Every believer should read it.
Life Without Limits (Nick Vujicic)- Wow. Heard this guy in person then had to read his book. Brought me to tears more than once.
The Pastor (Eugene Peterson)- One of the true ‘gems’ of our generation. Peterson should be more highly regarded than he is.
Bringing Adam Home (Joe standiford)- I read this book because I was being critical one of day of John Walsh’s no-nonsense attitude. A friend said I would be the same way toward criminals if I had the same story. After reading the story of what happened to Adam, I will never say another word about John Walsh. (No recommended for all readers but something everyone should at least know about. You will never let your kids roam unattended again.)
No One But God- Allah or Jesus (Nabell Qureshi)- Especially with the influx of Islam in America, everyone should read this book about a man who reluctantly realized Jesus was the only way to God.
Heavenly Man (Paul Hattaway)- Every Western Christian should read this book. Then I dare you to complain about being “persecuted” for your faith or complain about the church not offering enough events for you.
Kingdom Man (Tony Evans)- Every man should read this book annually.
Quantum Christianity (Aaron Davis)- Great book about how science is continually explaining God and not the other way around. Made me look more closely at the ‘string theory’. Amazing.
Replenish (Lance Whitt)- Good book about taking a personal sabbath and slowing down.
The Divine Mentor (Wayne Cordero)- Promotes daily devotions.
Failing Forward (John Maxwell)- Book for every leader.
The Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela)- Amazing story. Amazing life.
Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief (James McPherson)- Great leadership book. Teaches great principles about growing your leadership in less than ideal circumstances.
Chasing the Lion (Mark Batterson)- Encouraging book about pursuing your dreams.
Salt of the Sea (Ruta Sepetys)- Fiction book but was a great read. Good for leisurely reading.
How We Got the Bible (Neil Lightfoot)- Always amazed at how we got our current Bible translations.

If I had to pick ONE BOOK out of them all as my favorite, it would be “The Pastor” by Eugene Peterson. I am a sucker for biographies and it was in his book that I learned the phrase “A long obedience in the same direction.” For me, this means staying right where I am at and growing the Kingdom of God in my city for the rest of my life and not just when it is convenient. “The Pastor” spoke to me in many areas of life.

Do you have a favorite book of 2016? What was it? Share in the comment section below.

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The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

Many marriages fail not because couples don’t put in the effort, but because they are expressing their love in the “wrong” ways. When you learn to understand and speak your spouse’s love language, you will be able to effectively express your love and truly feel loved in return.

INTRODUCTION

Different Love Languages

Like linguistics in communication, people speak different love languages. We have our native love languages that we speak and understand best in, and our secondary language(s) that we are comfortable but less fluent at.

It is possible for couples to love each other, but to feel unloved because they give and receive love differently, i.e. they don’t share the same primary emotional love language. After 30 years of marriage counselling, Chapman concluded that there are 5 key emotional love languages, though there are many “dialects” within these 5 languages.

Filling the Love Tank
 

All of us have an “emotional love tank”. When we receive love in our primary love language, our love tank is filled and we feel loved. When we don’t receive love expressed in our primary love language, our love tank gradually depletes and we feel unloved. When our love tank is empty, issues is the relationship arise.

Falling in LoveFive Love Languages_Falling in Love
When we fall in love, we feel euphoric. We have the illusion that our partners are perfect and that the romantic feelings in our relationship will last forever. During this in-love period, we feel altruistic toward each other. We give freely because we believe our lover feels the same about us, and are equally committed to meeting our needs.

Long-range studies show that the in-love phenomenon typically lasts about 2 years (or longer if it is a secret love affair). When the phase eventually passes, we start to assert ourselves, and we stop doing many of the altruistic things for our partners. Our differences start to surface, and our partners’ imperfections start to become irritating or annoying. As the love tanks start to deplete, relationship issues start to surface.

To have a lasting relationship, it is important to recognize that the emotional high of the in-love experience is only temporary in nature. After the phase has run its course, we need to make a conscious shift to “real love”. Unlike the “in-love” stage, “real love” involves :
• A conscious choice or an act of will to love the other person;
Effort and discipline to understand and give love to the other person (not merely driven by the euphoria of being “in love”); and
• A focus on growth and development of yourself and your partner (unlike the “in love” phase when we simply see the other party as perfect and hope they will stay that way).

 

We can choose to learn and speak our spouses’ primary love language. When their love tanks are full, they are in a better position to reciprocate your love, and are free to grow to their full potential.

Five Love Languages_banner

We’ll now take a brief look at each of the 5 love languages.  

LOVE LANGUAGE #1: WORDS OF AFFIRMATION

Words of affirmation are words that build someone up. If this is your primary love language, it means the world to you when you receive unsolicited compliments, hear the words “I love you” and the reasons behind that love. Insults can break your heart and leave lasting scars.

Specifically, the book explains and shares examples of how you can express Love Language #1 through verbal compliments and encouraging words.

LOVE LANGUAGE #2: QUALITY TIME

If this is your primary language, you deeply value doing things together and receiving full, undivided attention from your spouse, including sharing quality conversations and activities. Distractions, postponed dates, or failing to listen can be especially hurtful to you.

in the book, Dr Chapman elaborates on how to use quality conversations and quality activities to express Love Language #2.

LOVE LANGUAGE #3: RECEIVING GIFTS

If this is your primary language, you deeply treasure a gift or gesture that shows you are being thought of, cared for, and prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring you the gift. Gifts are visual symbols of love. You feel hurt by the absence of daily gestures, a missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty/ thoughtless gift.

Gifts can be purchased, found or made, and the value is often less important than the significance of the gift. If you are not intuitive at giving gifts but your spouse’s primary language is receiving gifts, you can start by making a list of all the gifts that your spouses has been excited about – this will give you an idea of what gifts he/she appreciates.  Gifts also go beyond just physical items, and can include the gift of self (or the gift of physical presence).

LOVE LANGUAGE #4: ACTS OF SERVICE

If this is your primary love language, you feel loved when your spouse says “let me do that for you”, and helps to ease your burdens or share your responsibilities e.g. cooking a meal, washing the car. Broken commitments, unwillingness to help, laziness/ sloppiness, or taking your spouse for granted, all send the message that your spouse doesn’t matter.

Even if you and your spouse share the same primary love language of Acts of Service, you make speak different “dialects” or value different types of support being rendered (e.g. she may prefer that you wash the dishes while you may prefer that she irons your clothes). Try asking your spouse to list down the tasks that he/she considers most important, and do them.

We should remember that our perspectives and stereotypes of male and female roles in society/ the household may not be shared by our spouse. Hence, it is always better to make requests than demands. No spouse should ever feel compelled to do something for the other due to guilt or fear.

LOVE LANGUAGE #5: PHYSICAL TOUCH

Physical touch can bring a sense of security and connection to any relationship. If this is your primary love language, you crave shows of care and love through is thoughtful touches, hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and/ or sexual intercourse. Neglect or abuse can cause serious damage and hurt to you emotionally.

Like other love languages, there are different dialects in physical touch, such as loving touches on the arm/ back/ shoulders, a back rub, sexual foreplay and intercourse, sitting closely on the couch, holding hands etc.  Even if you share the same love language of physical touch, don’t assume he/she speaks the same dialect as you.

GETTING STARTED

To discover your primary love language, ask yourself:
• What makes you feel most loved by your spouse? What do you desire the most from your spouse?
• What does your spouse fail to do or say that hurts you deeply or brings you deepest pain?
• What do you do to express love to your spouse? [You tend to do what you wish he/ she would do for you]

“Tank Check Game”: If you wish to develop your understanding of and stimulate the love expressions in your relationship, this is a great game to try out with your spouse and watch your love deepen!

Turning Things Around: Even if you and your spouse have had an empty love tank for a long time, it is still possible to turn things around. Find out how you can restart your love engine with Dr Chapman’s suggested approach.

Five Love Languages and children: Find out how to identify your children’s love languages and how to develop a strong and loving relationship with them.

Love is a Choice

We all come down from the emotional high of the “in-love experience” at some point. Most marriages fail because people have not learnt or chosen to speak the primary love language of the other party. With the love tank empty for some time, people start to “fall in love” with someone else.

Love gives us the security, sense of significance & self-worth, and energy to develop our potential.  Making a conscious choice and a deliberate effort to speak your spouse’s primary love language may not come naturally for us. But it helps to keep his/ her love tank full, and chances are that he/ she will reciprocate and speak our language.

OTHER DETAILS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN THE BOOK

Chapman used many real-life examples from his own marriage, and of couples that he had counselled across the years, to illustrate the concepts in his book and how they can be applied to address different marriage/ relationship issues and circumstances. These are case studies help us to identify similarities and lessons for our own relationships.

*Readingraphics July 7, 2015

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How to Make Next Year’s Reading List

It’s no secret that I love to read. People have heard I read an average of 150 books a year and have one of two reactions. They either don’t believe me or immediately decide they could never do that. Well, would it change your mind if I told you I did not start out that way? How about if I told you I have a very specific plan in place that I have acquired through massive trial and error experiences. The first year I began trying to purposefully read through books, I read about 12. Then, that number grew as I learned what did and did not work for me. Now, reading has become a major part of my life and has become more than a joy but has even caused me to want to become a writer some day.

Whether or not that happens to you, it is so important to be a life long reader. The book really is better than the movie and there is so much to be learned from the great books that are out there.

If you are planning to tackle those reading goals this year, here are a few things I think about when planning my reading schedule for the upcoming year.

1. How many am I going to read this coming year?

For the first few years, my goals were very simple and straightforward. I would try to read one book a month. Many of us have started more than 12 books in a year but few of us actually finish them. Think of a number you think you read in a month then start there. Thinking about the whole year might be a little too daunting. Start small. It will grow overtime. There’s nothing wrong with planning low then having to increase that number through the year.

2. What am I going to read?

When I first started reading, I thought I was going to read every ‘self-help’ book I could get my hands on, which made for a very hard list. Leadership books and the like are great books but can be hard to get through after you have already read three or four others. I have started a process of alternating  fiction and non-fiction books. Fiction could be just about anything from a mystery to historical fiction. Then, I will read non-fiction which could range from a leadership book to a spiritual book to a biography of a great person in history. This keeps me ready and excited for the next book.

When it comes to specifically naming which books you will read, you do not have to go far to find great opportunities. Books already on your shelves, friends recommendations, and favorite authors are already good places to start building your list. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Non-fiction: Anything by Mark Batterson, biographies on Abraham Lincoln, books about famous moments in history, anything by John Maxwell, anything by Andy Stanley

Fiction: The ‘Killing Series’ by Bill O’Reilly (historical fiction), The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, Treasure Island, Don Quixote

3. When am I going to read?

We’ve all heard the old phrase, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” One of the greatest things I did was to plan a time to read. For me, reading right before bed worked out really well. It helped me slowly calm my mind down and focus. It is also a good idea to plan how many pages you are going to read. I usually shoot for one chapter per sitting and that tends to work well. It’s worth saying that I have noticed there is a lot of noticed time during the day to read. You can read while waiting in line, in the elevator, etc. Using a mobile device app like Kindle or iBooks creates a lot of options.

4. Where am I going to acquire my books?

Check your own book shelf first.

Ask friends to borrow their favorite book.

Overdrive app.

Kindle app.

iBooks app.

Nook app.

Audible.com (Audiobooks)

www.goodreads.com (website to find book suggestions)

5. Make a detailed list.

When I first starting ‘reading on purpose’ I noticed two things begin to happen often. The first was if I really liked a book, I would search out and read all I could find by that author or in tha genre. The result was not really getting a lot of diversity. Soon, I would be tired of the genre or run out of books by that author. The second thing would be if I did not like the book. I would get out of the habit to read and not be very excited about what was coming next. The way I found to be balanced was to plan out my books in advance. I plan at least 10 books in advance. That way I know what is coming but it is not so far that I have to wait a long time to add a new book.

This is what my schedule looks like. What about yours? Is there a book you are looking forward to reading this coming year? Is there a book you read every year? Let me know.

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All, Books, Leadership
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Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: By Sam Chand (Chapter One Review)

At RLC, our staff is currently reviewing the book “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code” by Sam Chand. It is important to step back from working in something to work on it from time to time. Here are some of the statements which stuck out to me in the first chapter.

CULTURE TRUMPS VISION

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes . . . but no plans.  —Peter Drucker

Culture—not vision or strategy—is the most powerful factor in any organization. It determines the receptivity of staff and volunteers to new ideas, unleashes or dampens creativity, builds or erodes enthusiasm, and creates a sense of pride or deep discouragement about working or being involved there. Ultimately, the culture of an organization—particularly in churches and nonprofit organizations, but also in any organization—shapes individual morale, teamwork, effectiveness, and outcomes.

The fact is, culture eats strategy for lunch.

You can have a good strategy in place, but if you don’t have the culture and the enabling systems, the [negative] culture of the organization will defeat the strategy.

Seven keys of  GOOD CULTURE:

  1. Control
  2. Understanding
  3. Leadership
  4. Trust
  5. Unafraid
  6. Responsive
  7. Execution

Many leaders confuse culture with vision and strategy, but they are very different. Vision and strategy usually focus on products, services, and outcomes, but culture is about the people—the most valuable asset in the organization.

To see a few snapshots of a church’s culture, we might ask these questions:

  • Who are the heroes? What makes them heroes? Who determines who the heroes are?
  • When someone inquires, “Tell me about your church or nonprofit,” what stories are told?
  • How much does the average staff member feel he or she has input into the direction and strategy of the church or nonprofit?
  • Who has the ear of the top leaders? How did these people win a hearing with the leaders?
  • What are the meaningful rituals? What message do they convey to those in the organization and those outside it?
  • Who is rewarded, and for what accomplishments?
  • What is the level of loyalty up and down the organizational chart? What factors build loyalty?
  • What is the level of creativity and enthusiasm throughout the organization?
  • When an objective observer spends an hour watching people interact in the offices, what mood does he or she pick up?
  • How are decisions made, deferred, or delayed?
  • Who are the non-positional power brokers, the people who have authority based on the respect they’ve earned but who don’t have authoritative titles?
  • Where are control problems and power struggles most evident?
  • How is “ turf ” defi ned and protected?

The shape of an organization’s culture begins at the top levels.

Culture Is the Most Powerful Factor in Any Organization

Culture Is Usually Unnoticed, Unspoken, and Unexamined

Culture Determines How People Respond to Vision and Leadership

Culture Most Often Surfaces and Is Addressed in Negative Experiences

Culture Is Hard to Change, but Change Results in Multiplied Benefits

Culture problems, by their nature, are never solved quickly.

The intangibles of respect and trust transform a church culture into a beehive of thinking, creating, and working together to accomplish grand goals. When staff members feel valued, they far more readily embrace a leader’s vision. Even if they disagree or don’t understand, they are more willing to give the benefit of the doubt and pitch in.

A positive culture will act as an accelerant for your vision.

Changing your organization’s culture will be one of the most challenging processes you’ve ever implemented, but I guarantee you, you’ll be glad you did.

Think About It . . .

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the premise of this chapter that culture trumps vision? Explain your answer.
  2. Describe the most inspiring organizational culture you have experienced as a staff member or ministry leader. How did the senior leaders treat people? How did they impart vision and strategy? How did people respond?
  3. Why did you pick up this book? What do you hope to get out of reading this book and implementing the steps of change?
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Book: Chase the Lion (By: Mark Batterson)

I’ve just started a new book called Chase the Lion by one of my favorite authors Mark Batterson. So far, I love it. This is his sequel to In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day.

Here are some great quotes I have encountered so far:

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Book Review: Wild At Heart

Every man should read “Wild At Heart” annually.
It teaches men that our heart is not to be tamed, sanitized, or hidden but to be unleashed.
The author says, “Men, be a man. Discover what that is and then let the fullness of who you are be real and authentic.”

This book hit me so many times in so many ways that I was wondering if he actually wrote this book for me.

Not enough books are written about the heart and depths of a man. When someone actually speaks on this topic, the result is the realization of an unquenchable hunger to hear more.

 

This book has recently been updated with even more good content. Here’s the link >>> CLICK HERE

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